May 15, 2013 | 165 comments
April 9, 2013 | 42 comments
March 1, 2013 | 50 comments
February 20, 2013 | 109 comments
February 18, 2013 | 73 comments
But he committed far fewer gaffes than the august Obama administration.
People who live in glass houses — and this is a category that includes many reporters, pundits, and leading political figures — love to throw stones. They especially like it when they are all aiming at the same target and boiling over with righteous indignation — to mention two of the common attributes of mobs. Tony Hayward, the just deposed CEO at BP, had a legitimate point when he said that he had been publicly “demonized and vilified” over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. That said, through his own fumbling and fragility, Hayward made the perfect fall guy.
“The Most Hated and Clueless Man in America,” shouted a headline in the New York Daily News. “What Not to Say When your Company is Ruining the World,” Newsweek fulminated in another headline. Newsweek taunted Hayward for “making gaffe after gaffe defending his company’s response to the Gulf oil spill.” And then there was never-let-a-crisis (or a juicy oil spill)-go-to-waste Rahm Emanuel, who was at his sneering best in an ABC News interview:
Well, to quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back, as he would say… and I think we can all conclude that Tony Hayward is not going to have a second career in PR consulting. This has just been part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes.
President Obama got into the fun when he declared that he would have fired Hayward if he (Obama) were in charge of things at BP. “He wouldn’t be working for me after any of those statements,” Obama said, speaking of a man he had never met and speaking of a situation (running a large business enterprise) that is far removed from his own knowledge and experience. During the same interview, the president made his famous remark about going down to the Gulf to talk to people, “so I know whose ass to kick.”
Apart from holding the top job at BP, what did Hayward say or do to merit all this huffing and puffing? Let us sort through all these terrible “gaffes.”
Hayward got off on the wrong foot on May 18, stating that the Gulf is “a very big ocean” and “the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” This infuriated a lot of people — beginning with those most inclined to fits of hysteria, which is to say the environmental activists — and it set the stage for the media to pounce on any comments or actions that they might consider inappropriate, such as daring to appear before the American public in anything other than sackcloth and ashes.
On May 30, Hayward told reporters, “There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would love my life back.” This was whiney, to be sure, and cause for much derision. Then on June 19, Hayward was observed to be taking part in a boat race around the Isle of Wight. Emanuel and other self-appointed critics howled with outrage that BP’s CEO was not devoting himself to managing the crisis 24/7.
And that’s it — those are all the “gaffes” committed by Tony Hayward.
Where he really went wrong, I would submit, was to look rattled, and even scared, during the Grand Inquisition that took place over several press conferences and the Congressional hearing during which one screaming and oil-smeared protester called for his imprisonment and had to be wrestled to the ground by half a dozen policemen. Nothing excites would-be attackers so much as the whiff of fear emanating from a potential victim.
BUT IT IS WORTH NOTING the media’s bias and selectivity in making sport of Hayward. If BP’s CEO was to be pilloried for taking any kind of a break during the midst of the crisis, why not the president? After all, the U.S. commander-in-chief made a big show of declaring himself to be charge of the whole operation and he publicly vowed that he would not rest until the hole had been plugged and damage cleaned up. Yet Obama drew little criticism for playing several rounds of golf and taking no fewer than three mini-vacations in the three months following the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20 (i.e., the first to Asheville, N. C., just three days after the event, the next to Chicago over Memorial Day weekend, and the last to Bar Harbor, Maine, on July 17).
If “gaffe” is used in the normal sense of the word — meaning a clumsy error, faux pas, or foolish blunder — surely U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar committed a number of gaffes back in May when he repeatedly referred to BP as “British Petroleum” (a name that the company had dropped a dozen years ago) and turned it into a term of opprobrium — saying that it was his intention to “keep a boot to the neck of British Petroleum.”
Salazar made it sound as though the evil Brits had wished this terrible thing upon their American cousins. Obama’s demand that BP “pay up” — big time — had the same effect. From listening to Obama and Salazar you would not have known that the U.S. citizens and institutions are almost as deeply invested in the company (with a 39% share of BP’s ownership) as their British counterparts (40%). Nor would you have known that BP has 24,000 employees in the U.S. compared to just over 10,000 in the U.K. That’s right — more than twice as many as employees in this country.
In macho man style, Salazar, a lawyer and career politician, even threatened to push BP “out of the way” if it didn’t move faster. This was too much for Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, overseeing the federal response, who gasped: “Replace them with what?” (In a wonderfully sarcastic editorial on May 26, the Wall Street Journal noted that Salazar “wouldn’t know an oil drill from a dental drill.”)
Certainly, all the bluster and grandstanding by the president and his interior secretary did nothing to advance the common objective of plugging the hole and cleaning up the damage. It only succeeded in causing unnecessary offense to our British friends and allies. Nor were the American people impressed. In national polls, the great majority of Americans say that the government has done a poor job of responding to the crisis (the Obama administration has received lower scores on the oil spill than the Bush administration did on Hurricane Katrina).
Lo and behold, it now seems possible that Hayward could actually be right in his original prediction that the Gulf spill is likely to be much less of an environmental calamity than many believed.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online