“Push BP out of the way,” says President Obama’s Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar. That’s his recommendation if the petroleum giant fails to plug the giant leak spewing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. You can see it on your computer and TV screens. It’s called “live streaming,” but what it shows is live crude oil streaming into our precious waters.
Push BP out of the way? The Coast Guard’s Commandant, Admiral Thad Allen responded to Salazar’s suggestion: “To push BP out of the way… would raise the question: Replace them with what?” Adm. Allen appears to be the adult on-scene-commander for this disaster.
Adm. Allen would not be drawn into a clash with Sec. Salazar, saying only that the former Colorado senator’s comments were “more of a metaphor.” TV personalities were having none of it. Whoopi Goldberg of The View weighed in with a rant about its being “Day 36” of the worst oil spill in history. Why can’t the government come up with something, Whoopi demanded to know. “Somebody get your a__ in gear here,” Whoopi whooped. Joy Behar, always the voice of reason, said it was all Dick Cheney’s fault. He de-regulated offshore oil drilling, and all for the sake of Halliburton, his former employer, Behar is sure.
What about BP’s hundreds of thousands of campaign contributions to Obama, asked the show’s token conservative. But Behar was off to the races. What this shows is we need campaign finance reform, she said.
Right. That would be of immediate help in plugging the leaking oil well. Maybe we could print 100 copies of another 2,000-page piece of legislation — one for each senator — wad them up, and stuff them into the hole. Print the bill on extra-absorbent paper, too.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is desperate to do something more practical to stop the oil from washing ashore and further damaging delicate marshlands upon which so much of the Bayou State’s fishing industry depends. Gov. Jindal wants to put sand berms in the path of the advancing oil.
Jindal is being prevented by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps wants time to “study” the impact of doing that. In the old days, before we had the capacity for endless such studies, volunteers packed sand in sandbags to stop floods, and they threw up barriers to fires and oil slicks.
Gov. Jindal is another adult, trying manfully to do something immediate to meet the catastrophe. He’s been quoted as saying he’d even risk jail rather than let his state’s coastline be covered in sludge.
President Obama is continuing to hover over this scene. “Plug the damn hole,” he growls to aides in the Oval Office, but in public he maintains Olympic calm. Newsweek editor Evan Thomas likes to say Obama is “like a sort of god.” The President apparently feels that if he maintains a godlike demeanor, no one will make the obvious connection between this present crisis and that 2005 event down there. You know, the one that rhymes with “marina.”
One question we need to ask ourselves: Why is BP drilling one mile down and a hundred miles offshore in the first place? Could it be that our extra-stringent government regulations have created the conditions for this first class environmental emergency?
Could anything imaginable in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have a worse environmental impact than what we are seeing in the Gulf of Mexico? Could it be more difficult to handle a blowout of an oil well up there, even in mid-winter?
Is drilling that far out and that far down necessitated because Sierra Club senators won’t tolerate the sight of oil rigs closer to shore? Why don’t we tell them to throw tarps over the platforms and paint them to look like historic lighthouses? Tell liberals they can collect the whole set.
In the meantime, when candidates like Barack Obama tell us their election means “we will begin to heal the planet and the oceans cease to rise,” let’s respond with some healthy skepticism. We can replace Bush-Cheney policies. We can even replace BP. But, as Adm. Allen says: Replace them with what?