On May 27, 2010 President Obama took just over an hour out of his schedule to grace us with his first press conference since July 2009.
The intention of it was to silence the idea that this administration’s management of the horrendous mess in the Gulf of Mexico was haphazard, having all the efficiency of the Keystone Kops. If anyone tuned in expecting to have their confidence boosted they had to be sorely disappointed.
As we have become accustomed to, the promised transparency of the Obama Administration was nowhere to be seen. Instead, as per usual, it was song and dance time, with lots of tough sounding rhetoric accompanied by bold assurances that the U.S. government is taking all “appropriate” actions necessary to hold BP accountable.
The president opened with a nice academic lecture that was reminiscent of Al Gore’s condescending style, in which he gave a vigorous defense of his administration’s handling of the BP oil spill crisis. As the questioning proceeded, Obama repeatedly put forward the notion that the White House was in charge and he was responsible.
The president flat-out rejected criticism of his handling of the disaster by saying, “This has been our highest priority since the crisis occurred.”
Nice to know, except there was one little hitch in that narrative. Hours before the news conference started, Liz Birnbaum had resigned or been fired. Was she just a mid-level bureaucrat deciding on a career change? No, not exactly. Until her departure she’d been head of the Minerals Management Service, the agency that oversees offshore drilling.
Yet when asked about it, the president straight-faced claimed that he didn’t know whether Liz Birnbaum had resigned or been fired.
“Now, with respect to Ms. Birnbaum, I found out about her resignation today,” President Obama said. “So I don't know the circumstances in which this occurred.”
Jackie Calmes of the New York Times pressed hard, “I'm also curious as how it is that you didn't know about Ms. Birnbaum's resignation/firing before.”
“Well, you're assuming it was a firing,” the president replied. “If it was a resignation, then she would have submitted a letter to Mr. Salazar this morning at a time when I had a whole bunch of other stuff going on.”
“So you rule out that she was fired?” Calmes asked.
“I'm—come on, I don't know,” Obama replied. “I'm telling you the—I found out about it this morning. So I don't yet know the circumstances, and Ken Salazar has been in testimony on the Hill.”
Ah-huh. Who’d you say was in charge and responsible, Mr. President? Who wakes up each morning fully engaged in all aspects of the clean-up? Once again this president has displayed a great ability to chatter circles around an issue and sound good doing so, but when it comes to real leadership, he’s a walking, talking photo-op.
The track record of the Obama Administration reveals a rather bald game plan—let no crisis go unused for its purposes to transform America. This present environmental and economic quagmire will most certainly be leveraged to push the country closer to being a cradle to grave socialist state, in which all citizens are entirely dependent on governmental hand-outs along with the accompanying governmental control. The Nanny State, or in this particular case the Daddy State, is fast approaching.
However, while bureaucratic quandaries significantly delay or derail real efforts along the gulf coast, we ought to take a deep breath and consider what we are seeing. It ought to be fundamentally clear that government without checks and balances cannot accomplish anything—it really is a Keystone Kops adventure of bumbling and stumbling.
Yet it is this top-down all-inclusive power that is the intended final destination of the Obama Administration, so Mr. President, perhaps you could answer one more question for all your children, “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?”