Friday, June 4, 2010

If This is Obama's Katrina, What was Bush's Oil Spill?

In spite of many anti-Obama people calling the oil spill "Obama's Katrina", there are a lot of differences, and I am going to go over them right now.

This is an article I read this morning.

The conclusion is that both Bush and Obama had about the same amount of responsibility for their problems, and commitment to their problems, and both had difficulty with the public perception of their response.

Where I think this article shows its bias is in somehow forgetting the real impetus for the criticism over Katrina.

Rory Cooper thinks it was all about Bush overflying New Orleans.
"He flew over the crisis, because he thought landing would pre-occupy recovery workers, divert resources and clog up air space. Little did he know that this rational decision would be the impetus for his “Katrina.” In hindsight, everyone admits he should have landed in Baton Rouge to affirm on the ground support. "
I don't see it like that, and Rory Cooper forgets to mention the real impetus for the loss of faith in Bush, which was the comment "Heckuva job, Brownie", which seemed a complete denial of the people dying in New Orleans due to slow response from the government.

So now I have that out of the way, let's look at the context. George W. Bush had several other greater calamities, one of which was 9/11. Since the oil spill is now the U.S.'s biggest disaster under Obama, it may be more logical to call it Obama's 9/11. I just want to remind everyone that Katrina was not the first (or even second) big disaster for Bush, and that Bush's disasters involved more loss of life and much more incompetence from the White House. As far as I know, no loss of life has resulted from Obama being slow to respond to the oil spill. All the people who died on the oil rig were killed instantly, and response time was not an issue.

After 9/11, there was an inquiry about the administration's role in ignoring the warning signs. And there was the memo saying "Al Quaeda planning to strike in America". But the final result was that Bush was forgiven for not preventing 9/11, and the American people rallied behind him, and counted on him to organize a response. The Bush response was to attack Iraq, which had not caused 9/11, but support for Bush still remained quite high among the American voters, regardless of the incompetence.

Katrina for George Bush was not his biggest blunder, it was more like the "last straw", where people finally lost patience and said "maybe this guy is just incompetent." Bush had been forgiven for many incompetences resulting in loss of life, and strategic blunders of epic proportions. The support for Bush was all about rallying behind the "commander in chief" who was doing his best against a foreign attacker. Bush was given the benefit of the doubt in spite of obvious blunders that had the liberals screaming, and the rest of the world aghast. Bush's ill conceived plans unfolded, supposedly guided by George's gut instinct and a few words from God.

After Katrina, I think Americans had finally had enough. This was not some far-away adventure that most Americans did not know about, where reporting was censored. This was an entire American city that was lost, with pictures and first hand accounts on the news. Again through incompetence, headed up apparently by a man nicknamed "Brownie" who as Bush said was "doing a heck of a job", while the people of New Orleans were dying from lack of water, stranded on roofs.

Hurricane Katrina had a few other aspects that played against George Bush and the Republican Party. The levees had not been properly fixed, due to budgets cuts, while America was spending billions fixing up Iraq. New Orleans was full of black people, who the Republican Party was not fond of, and they wanted to clear the slums anyway. A hurricane is a climatic event, and coincidentally, George W. Bush's administration was also at that time trying to muzzle scientists and deny the threat of global warming.

By comparison, the oil spill was caused by offshore drilling, something that the Republican Party supports much more than Obama does. Even now, the Republicans are the ones saying that oil is natural, oil spills are natural, more drilling is still needed. It's not Obama saying that. Also, it was Bush's administration, entirely dominated by big oil companies, that relaxed rules and oversight on the oil rigs.

The Republicans of course are going to try and make this oil spill stick to Obama and call it Obama's Katrina. But it is nothing like the Katrina problem.

It was not Obama who had the campaign slogan "Drill, baby drill", and Obama never said "Heckuva job" to anyone about this oil spill, unless someone was really doing a heckuva job.

The only comparison between these two disasters is that they both hit Louisiana, and they are a PR problem for the sitting president. It's surprising that the conservatives have been able to run the comparison as far as this, considering who is really responsible for supporting big oil. Actually, the comparison of the oil spill to Hurricane Katrina shows us how the Republicans still don't have any sympathy for the people of New Orleans and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.


  1. That article you referenced smacks to me of ex post facto rationalization of the Bush administration's actions following Katrina ... 'irrelevant, immaterial and incompetent.'

    Diverting the primary thrust of the analysis to the administrative response to the disaster is a red herring being dragged across the real issue: government policies in prevention and in response planning, an 'ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.'

    In both disasters(Katrina and Deepwater) and in both aspects (prevention and planning) the Bush administration is clearly culpable.

    With respect to Katrina, the flawed, inappropriate and inadequate response was a direct consequence of Bush administration policies in inflating the terrorist threat (mandating the department of 'Homeland Security') and staffing key jobs with political cronies. Recall that, prior to joining FEMA, Brown's primary previous experience was with the International Arabian Horse Association and that Brown's appointment caused serious discontent (and resignations) among the professionals at FEMA.

    As far as Deepwater Horizon, this mess is undeniably the consequence of the Bush-Cheney administration's catering to their Big Oil cronies, a situation which would have been much less likely to happen, and which could have been more effectively dealt with, had pre-Bush drilling restrictions and regulations been adequately enforced.

  2. I would agree completely but for one thing. Obama came out with a statement before the spill that indicated he was satisfied with the safety and technology of the drilling, and then moved to permit more offshore drilling. If anything that was his biggest mistake in the whole affair, and why even Greenpeace referred to this as Obama's Katrina.

    Other than that, I think Obama is not to blame for this, either prevention or cure. I suppose he could be doing a little more emoting for the cameras, but that's just for show anyway.

  3. You write, 'I would agree completely but for one thing. Obama came out with a statement before the spill ...'

    Which is accurate. In fact, Obama was criticized for doing a flip in his position on offshore drilling during the campaign.

    But, then, few things are as anathematic to American electors as higher gasoline prices and candidates who advocate policies perceived as likely to increase those prices do so at their peril.

    The fact remains that, during the Bush-Cheney administration, a regime of 'lax oversight and cozy ties to industry' was allowed to develop among the oil regulators.

    If the regulators were not regulating, can disasters such as Deepwater Horizon really be a surprise?