Thursday, May 27, 2010

Obama's Katrina?

President Obama will make his second visit to the Gulf of Mexico tomorrow, stressing the urgency of the situation and addressing his administration’s concern for the massive oil spill. Many Republicans, however, are trying to link President Obama's handling of the BP oil spill to President Bush's flawed response in 2005 to Hurricane Katrina. This is a flawed view for many reasons.

First and foremost, Katrina was a storm that you track for several weeks. After swiftly coming ashore, more than 1,800 people were killed, and thousands more left without food or shelter. It is impossible to challenge President Bush’s slow response, as so many of us witnessed the catastrophe firsthand: the entire city was left to fend for itself, abandoned by the government, as people were left at the New Orleans convention center for days with no water or food. Many can remember watching television to see people stuck on their rooftops crying out for help. That is called a slow response and any comparisons to President Obama’s reaction to the BP oil spill are not only immature, but uneducated.

In the case of what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama responded hastily from day one. As the news of the crisis poured through the media, the Coast Guard and the Navy were on site immediately after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig from which the oil spill began. Obama also took it upon his duties to order a moratorium on new offshore drilling leases and dispatched cabinet secretaries and cargo planes to the region.

Even Fox News Anchor Bill O’Reilly said, on the May 5th edition of Good Morning America, that even if Obama acted quicker, “they can’t even cap it now. What else could he have done, be put in a dive suit?” Strangely enough, I agree.

Second, to say Obama’s response to the oil spill is intentionally slow due to BP’s previous donations to his presidential campaign in 2008 is irresponsible. Not only has he responded quickly, but he has made it his administration’s top priority. The government is not sitting idly while leaving BP to clean up the mess it created in the first place, but instead, has ensured that any and all actions taken by the oil company must be first approved by the federal government. So although BP is at fault and may be taking steps to clean up the mess, their efforts are all coordinated and managed by Obama and his administration.

Third, I'm almost sure that the oil companies don't consider the Obama administration a huge ally. Through his repeated calls for cleaner energy, cap-and-trade policies, and decreased reliance on oil, the president has made clear that he has not become cozy with his campaign donors. Remember when he proposed a windfall profits tax for oil companies who jack up their oil prices to charge more for gasoline? There is also proof when examining his calls for greater financial regulation, despite the fact that his campaign received large donations from Wall Street firms.

Republicans have been criticizing the president for not dealing with the spill efficiently. Yet, it has long been the GOP mantra to “drill baby drill”. Seems very hypocritical if you ask me.

To the critics, please stop trying to criticize every action taken by our president to help fix this nation from the misery and pain caused from the last eight years. Instead, try offering real solutions and put the American people first, not politics.

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