Perhaps it is because his chief speechwriter has spent the crisis playing beer pong in Georgetown bars. Perhaps it is because while embracing peak oil, the oil spill never piqued his blue state interests since it affected red states.
Whatever the reason, Barack Obama gave the most depressing Oval Office speech since Jimmy Carter's malaise speech. He didn't just embrace defeat, he wore it on his suit as a substitute for an argyle sweater. He tried to sound upbeat in the way a cop in a movie might sound when his partner lay mortally wounded and the cop needs to get the partner's wife to the hospital without letting her know her husband is dying. It was a false optimism with Barack Obama distracting Americans in a game of three card monte.
The best summation of the speech comes from our own Caleb Howe, who tweeted, "Let me be clear. Some oil spilled. But Katrina. And make no mistake. I'm having meetings. In conclusion, something about China. Windmills!" That, ladies and gentlemen, is the President's whole speech in 140 characters.
"Look on the bright side," he seemed to be saying. "You can't get skin cancer while wearing hazmat suits at the beach. And hey, you don't have to worry about shark attacks any more along the gulf coast since all the sharks are dead. And by the way, we're going to go with clean energy."
Shuffling the cards around the table dazzling people with news and "better late than never" actions, a few gratuitous shots at BP, steps to be taken, and new policy initiatives, he hoped we would forget the oil spill. He hoped we would not connect that green energy initiatives are not going to fuel our cars or make our tupperware or clean beaches or even "plug the damn hole."
In fact, that's a starting point for his speech.
Byron York notes, Barack Obama trumpeted our putting a man on the moon as a sign of our technological abilities. But he used the example not to highlight our ability to stop the leak or clean up the damage, but to transition to a green economy. What the heck does a green economy have to do with fixing this mess?
What's more, he hopes you will ignore what Steven Hayward has pointed out at AEI — very little crude oil goes into producing energy in America to keep lights on. Most oil goes to fueling our cars. Windmills, nuclear reactors, and solar panels will not fuel our cars. If we don't extract the oil, we will grow more and more dependent on Hugo Chavez and Iranian President I'manutjob. I realize he doesn't want a crisis to go to waste, but his priorities are clearly not those of the rest of the nation.
Beyond this issue though, Barack Obama's speech was filled with schizophrenic contradictions that have to make you wonder if the beer pong games were ongoing up to 8 o'clock and the speech delivery. Let's review.Barack Obama said, "[J]ust after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge." But then he said, "As a result of these efforts, we’ve directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. And in the coming weeks and days, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well."
Why did it take so long, or are these just words? And if he means it, how then does he explain his self-described "divorcing" from BP so that we need not be held hostage to their seemingly failed efforts?
We either are or are not collaborating with British Petroleum.
Then there is this:
We’ve approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try to stop the oil before it reaches the shore
That contradicts the facts at hand, which include the Governor of Louisiana repeatedly asking for this action for weeks, then doing it himself. Barack Obama can say he gave approval, but only after Bobby Jindal did it anyway.
Then there is this:
The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.
coupled with this:
I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, who is also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents.
Considering how long it took his scientists and experts to provide advice to BP, Barack Obama will be well and truly gone from the White House before this ever happens. Like with his health care plan, he can oversell and under deliver.
Barack Obama also goes for sleights of hand to obfuscate his butchery of coastal oil drilling jobs — something only he can be blamed for. He said, "And so I’ve established a National Commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place. Already, I’ve issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling." He strings the two sentences together as if the commission recommended the moratorium, but we know now the commission did not recommend it and is opposed to it. But far be it for Barack Obama to take the blame when he can blame a commission.
Then he transitions to his "green energy" and "clean energy" program — a program modeled on the Spanish plan, which the Spanish are now abandoning and which remains a plan that will do nothing but make us more dependent on unsavory international characters to get the oil for which there is no credible plan to end our dependency for fueling our vehicles. Hope and change are not fuels.
Barack Obama, like Jimmy Carter before him, has proven himself overwhelmed by the job, not up to the task, and looking for answers in all the wrong places. Let's hope the nation can survive him.
As an aside, several people have posited that there is nothing under the sun Barack Obama could have said that I would be happy with. That simply is not true.
He could have:
- Announced he was suspending the Jones Act, which prevents foreign vessels from assisting in these types of situations. Right now, foreign vessels must unload their cargo onto American flagged ships, thus causing delays.
- Announced he was going to send in more skimmer ships. The Coast Guard has refused to order an additional quantity and regulations the President has refused to waive require a certain number be kept with the Navy, which is not using them to help.
- Announced he was suspending FEMA competitive bidding contracts, which is just delaying contractors from engaging in the cleanup efforts.
Each of these things, and more, should have been done a long time ago. But better late than never. Sadly, Barack Obama is too busy finding scapegoats to actually, you know, lead.