It has been 1200 Hours since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico.
Dead sea turtle lies on beach in Pass Christian, Mississippi(Source)
There have been dozens of dead sea turtles found washing up on the beaches.
And young herons:
All manner of sea life are dying in the Gulf of Mexico.
So are jobs and livelihoods
Pondering these heartbreaking pictures, I tried to find out what serious steps the Obama administration has taken to bring every available resource to the Gulf of Mexico, in order to try to take as much oil as possible out of the equation, and to try to protect the sea life, the marshes, the coasts.
You would expect there to be tons of headlines, everyday, about what aid Obama has accepted from other nations, what serious, concrete steps he has taken to aggressively counter the ongoing threat to our coastlines, and to entire fishing and tourism industries. But there aren’t any.
Options are being discussed. There are headlines like this one, from June 1: Obama administration moves to distance itself from BP on oil spill response.
President Obama also plans to hold a full meeting of his Cabinet — not a common event during his first year and a half in office — to discuss what the administration is doing to stop the leak and to clean up the coastlines of several states.
It’s all kind of vague.
Once the leak is finally plugged, perhaps by the end of the summer, the economic effects of the oil spill, both locally and worldwide, will continue to be an issue for Obama.
That’s the big story out of the Washington Post. And then, just now, comes this:
The Gulf region will recover, but needs help, Obama said, as he again called on BP to be “quick and responsive” to damage claims from residents and business people. Obama said he does not want the oil company “nickel and diming” people whose livelihoods are threatened by environmental damage from the spill.
So, restitution and…
“This is a resilient ecosystem and these are resilient people down on the Gulf Coast,” Obama said.
Surrounded by members of his Cabinet, Obama said 15 agencies have been activated and he wants to make sure to get “every asset that we have” down to the Gulf to “make sure that we are minimizing the amount of oil that is actually coming to shore.”
Emphasis mine. 1200 hours after the explosion, we’re going to finally make sure that we are minimizing the amoung of oil coming to shore.
I’m sure Gov. Jindal will be glad to hear this. I bet he wishes that Dolphins and Sea Turtles could vote.
Let me show you what kind of real, concrete action had been taken (with or without headlines) 100 Hours after the Katrina Stormfall:
Between 2,500 and 3,000 people have been rescued by the Coast Guard, National Guard and First Responders.
National Guard and Regular Army have deployed 50,000 troops…the biggest domestic relief effort in U.S. history after Monday’s onslaught by killer Hurricane Katrina.
The Navy is sending the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman to join an armada of vessels off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
The Air Force said it was adding a high-flying U-2 spy plane to the relief effort to take pictures to help relief efforts at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Army has put on alert roughly 3,000 active-duty ground troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to be prepared to deploy to New Orleans…The brigade-sized force, likely to be from the 82nd Airborne Division, would engage in crowd control and site-protection activities.
Pipelines are being restored and refineries are beginning to get back into operation.
Levee repairs are underway – reportedly one break has already been fully repaired as of this evening.
Now, obviously, capping a gusher 5,000 feet below the surface was not as easy as “plugging the damn hole,” nor as simple as ordering ships to an emergency situation (or was it?) but over the course of 1200 hours, the Obama administration should have made a more vigorous response to the effects of that gushing, which did not take experts to predict, or 50 days time to understand.
This disaster could have been a moment for Obama to have shown dynamic leadership. He could have been there with Bobby Jindal saying, “we’ll build the berms; we’ll do whatever it takes to save these coastlines.”
Instead, writes J.R. Dunn:
Well, we’ve seen Obama frowning. Obama sticking his fingers into the sand. Obama saying he’s frustrated. Obama telling us a heartwarming story about his daughter. He even, according to spokesman Robert Gibbs, said “damn” at one point. (Though this has not yet been independently verified by a third party.)
That’s it. That’s the sum total of accomplishment by Barack Obama, his administration, his party, and his bureaucracy, in facing his first major domestic crisis.
The hardware and ancillary equipment necessary to deal with a seabed blowout is well understood . . . Floating booms trap the oil and keep it from dispersing. Burn booms isolate floating oil and set it ablaze. Tankers can be equipped to sweep the oil off the ocean surface. Not a single one of these items was available to any of the parties responsible for responding to a potential disaster in the Gulf. Not BP, not the Interior Department, not the federal government as a whole. The feds tried to borrow a fire boom from a private party. To what purpose is difficult to surmise — a single boom would be about as useful as a plastic bucket in a disaster of this magnitude. Much of the past month and a half has been spent playing catchup on the equipment front, and we have not yet seen the end of it.
The president, this afternoon:
1200 Hours after the explosion, the president, who was described by some in the press as so monumental that accepting the presidency was “a step down” for him has finally sounded some right notes, but like a distracted percussionist, he has struck them too late, and without much force.
Interestingly, one notices that those members of the Democrat party and the press who were daring to express impatience with the process of responsive engaging have been muted, or they’ve fallen back into line.
Now he is the ass-kicker in chief. Sigh. Can you imagine if Bush had said it? The criticism of Obama has been fairly mild compared to what we’ve seen other presidents experience. He can’t seem to handle any. Sir, the job is about more than kicking ass. It is about leadership, and communication and giving people a sense that one is competent.
Maybe he should kick his own ass for foregoing the public campaign funding he’d agreed to, in order to collect 600 million dollars in donations, a million of it from BP. Or maybe he should kick Rahm’s ass for also having close associations and taking favors from the BP-connected.