Obama’s Oil Speech: We Need a Prayer

Andrew Belonsky :: Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 10:37 am

For all the hubbub over Barack Obama’s big oil spill speech, his first from the Oval Office, last night’s display was a huge flop. Rather than outlining a “battle plan” to combat the Gulf Coast catastrophe, the President’s seventeen-minute address simply brought us up to speed with what has already happened, while offering little in the way of forthcoming tactics. Other than his tepid threats to make BP “pay,” whatever that means, Obama offered us little more than political theater and suggested what we all already know: we’re damned.

The Obama administration hoped that the President’s speech would prove that the Commander-in-Chief was indeed commanding the situation. That doesn’t appear to be the case. Though the president insisted, “we will fight this spill with everything we’ve got,” and that the States “will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused,” Obama offered little new information.

In addition to highlighting the ongoing efforts – five and a half million feet of boom have been laid out, Thad Allen’s on the case, thousands of ships and soldiers are getting their hands dirty – Obama claimed that he’s working his magic to create various teams, committees and departments to tackle the disaster. For example, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a “son of the Gulf,” will “develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible.” Um, okay. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, meanwhile, will continue to route out corruption in agencies meant to regulate the oil industry. That sounds useful, and painstaking.

Oh, and then Obama spent some time explaining why we need to pass his energy legislation to “embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny.” In the meantime, Obama plans to meet with BP executives and wag a finger at their “recklessness” and make them “pay,” although he didn’t quite define what that exactly means.

Obama concluded his speech by highlighting the America’s enduring faith. Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It’s called ‘The Blessing of the Fleet,’” explained the President, who claims we should find inspiration in that ritual. “This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through - what has always seen us through - is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it,” Mr. Obama contended. “Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day.”

So, basically, the United States, with all its money, resources and cutting-edge technology, remains powerless in the face of this catastrophe and has no other choice but to fall to our knees and plead with the heavens to bring us some hope, because the government certainly can’t bring it.

Last night’s speech wasn’t – well, anything. It was simply an example of how the President, backed into a corner, was trying to flip the situation back in his favor. Sadly, it did him a huge disfavor, and won’t endear him to the increasingly angry American public, 52% of whom already disapprove of his handling.

One Response to “Obama’s Oil Speech: We Need a Prayer”
  1. The whole thing felt vague. I really thought we would not hear from him until there were a few new ideas or, god willing, a solution.

    All he did was point the finger at BP when we all already knew they were to blame.

    Posted by: Teelin June 16th, 2010 at 11:29 am