May 27, 2010

I hate to break it to David Gergen, but President Obama has already brought in the "best minds" and engineers in the country to try to help figure out how to stop the oil well blowout in the Gulf. David Dayden made a good point on this over at FDL -- Shift Away From Drilling, End to Subsidies Only Long-Term Solutions to BP Disaster:

I know Bill Nelson wants the Administration to “take over” if the top kill fails, but I don’t know exactly what that means – certainly they should make the decisions on emergency response, and if there is a supertanker with the sucking capability to mop up all the oil, they should force that solution. But as for the leaking well itself, I think David Roberts gets this right:

People have been casting about for some way to compartmentalize this thing, some way to cast it as an anomaly, an “accident,” the kind of screwup that can be meliorated or avoided in the future.

We are, however, drifting toward a whole different kind of place. Tomorrow BP is attempting the “top kill” maneuver — pumping mud into the well. If it doesn’t work, well … then what? Junk shot? Top hat? Loony stuff like nukes? Relief wells will take months to drill and no one’s sure if they’ll work to relieve pressure. It’s entirely possible, even likely, that we’re going to be stuck helplessly watching as this well spews oil into the Gulf for years. Even if the flow were stopped tomorrow, the damage to marshes, coral, and marine life is done. The Gulf of Mexico will become an ecological and economic dead zone. There’s no real way to undo it, no matter who’s in charge.

Sadly that is a likely scenario we're already facing now. I agree with some of Anderson Cooper's points here that there's more they could have done as far as not relying on BP's initial estimates about the size of the spill and the response in Louisiana to prevent the oil from coming ashore in the first place. Whether it would have mattered when you're talking about this much oil, who knows, but they've been stalling instead of doing everything possible to at least try to protect those marshes.

I agree with Gergen that the President had better get more involved with this, but whether or not they get this spill stopped or not at this point, the damage to the Gulf is already done. Saying that getting this well plugged in a couple of days is going to make some big difference for Obama one way or the other politically just seems silly to me. I'd like for Anderson Cooper to ask David Gergen where his concern was about off shore drilling and our country's "safety" from an accident before this became a political football for him to yammer on about. And the government "can protect us from wars"... what the hell is he talking about? How about not starting illegal wars like your buddy Dubya? Spare me Gergen.

Gergen also claims that if President Bush had gone to a fundraiser like Obama did, the press would have been all over him and compares this to what happened with Katrina. I don't think that's a fair comparison. The media finally got onto Bush about Katrina because he wasn't even paying attention to what was going on there for a full week and his staff had to make him a DVD so he could watch the media coverage for the week prior. I don't like how President Obama has been handling this, but I highly doubt he's not even paying attention to what's going on. Bush was slammed for his complete indifference the plight of those who were trapped in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and rightfully so. I don't think Obama is indifferent. I think showing he's outraged about anything isn't in his DNA.

I don't know about anyone else but what I'd like to see Obama do is declare this a national emergency so some of the bureaucracy they're dealing with in New Orleans can be cut through, let us know who he's listening to and what's being done with the containment and cleanup of this mess and get rid of Ken Salazar for starters. He should have done those things a few weeks ago. But don't even get me started on Drill-Baby-Drill Jindal and who went running to the microphone this week asking for more help. If he saw this coming and thought they could have built those berms in time to make a difference he should have been screaming on day two and if needed to get himself arrested protesting in front of the White House if he thought Obama was not listening to him. He looks like he's a day late and a dollar short himself.

I don't blame them for not going after BP with criminal charges until they actually get this well plugged since I don't want to see that company acting any worse than they already are now until it's sealed, but if his DOJ does not hold BP and the other companies criminally responsible for what they've done here, I think he's going to have some real problems for that later as well.

I'm completely disgusted by all of this just as most of the country is I suspect, but I feel pretty much the same way about David Gergen and his criticisms as I do Mary Matalin. If you were supportive of the anti-regulation crowd that helped put these policies in place and never had anything to say about the safety of off shore drilling before now, you have no credibility to criticize what's going on now.

Transcript below the fold via CNN.

COOPER: Well, a lot of local officials who still have faith in President Obama say Friday is going to be a huge test once he comes down here. They say maybe he's being misinformed, maybe he doesn't -- maybe he's not aware of the real situation on the ground. They want to inform him face to face. And after that, they want to see big changes, and if they don't see them, they are going to be very disappointed indeed.

Joining us now, senior political analyst, David Gergen.

David, you said something the other night to me which I've been thinking about a lot. You said, you know, if -- if we fought World War II with the same kind of attitude and energy with which the government is fighting this, a lot of us would be speaking German. Do you still believe that?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I believe it more deeply today than I did yesterday, Anderson. Watching you out there on that boat today with James and Billy and Governor Jindal, one couldn't help but be saddened by the sense that you were looking at a dead sea, that nothing seemed to be living out there. You said to me even the bugs, you couldn't find bugs out there.

But most importantly, you couldn't find anybody who was cleaning it up, who was trying to fight back. And I think that for -- especially for the younger generation that is so green, I was just talking to producers here at CNN, the younger producers. They're walking around. They're really just sort of downtrodden. They're just pessimistic about this, because they've invested their hopes in having a cleaner environment and a clean America. And now we see this and we see so little response organized by the government.

I think -- look, I think there are two things that are going on. We have to separate the problems out, Anderson. One is the problem of trying to plug the leak. And all of us wish that BP succeeds in the next 24 hours with this "top kill."

If they don't, I think the president has no choice but to do what Senator Nelson was arguing today, and that was to put the government in charge, with bringing in the military to help coordinate that. And I think Bill Nelson from Florida is right about that.

The other part of the problem, though, is, even if BP succeeds in the next 24 hours, somebody has got to save these coastlines. These are a precious part of America's heritage, whether it's commercial or fisheries or tourism or just a sense of who we are as a people, protecting New Orleans and protecting Louisiana. Where -- where are the people? Why are you the only people out there today? I don't understand that. It's bewildering.

COOPER: Yes. It is stunning. You know, you would think there would be hazmat crews out there, you know, in those marshes, soaking it up.

And apparently, they only -- BP only put down booms out there to soak up oil after they had been informed that the oil was already in the marsh. And they basically put down booms once the oil was already in the marsh. And no one seems to have picked up some of these booms that are supposed to soak up oil. So basically, they'll just re- release that oil because you're supposed to pick those booms up. You can't just leave them out there.

This new CNN poll this week found that half the country isn't happy with the way the president has handled this situation. Half the country doesn't think the spill is going to end any time soon. I mean, are those Katrina-like numbers for the president?

Because I was thinking, I mean, if this was President Bush, and you had President Bush going to a fund-raiser for a Republican Party at the home of -- you know, of the Getty family for oil, you would -- there would be a lot of people saying, "Look, how can he do that at a time when we're seeing all this oil in the water?"

GERGEN: There's no question if it had been President Bush, he'd be hammered by now, hammered by the press and by others, especially for the fundraisers.

We don't yet see the polls in the Katrina-like sense. Katrina, as you remember, was a turning point for the Bush presidency. The sense of complacency, the sense of not caring, really, I think doomed that presidency well beyond what happened in Iraq. That hasn't yet happened here -- and with President Obama.

We do have the CNN poll and we have another poll today from CBS, both of which confirm that the country generally -- there's general disapproval. But it hasn't reached sharp levels yet. But it's going to, Anderson, if this "top kill" doesn't work, and if, in the next two days, the president doesn't take full control of this and bring in the top military people to coordinate it and the type minds and the top technologists and engineers to get it solved. It has to be done. This is what government is for.

The reason we come out of a state of nature, going back to original documents being in a natural state and coming together and forming a government, it's all about forming a government that can protect us from wars and natural -- and catastrophes like this.

COOPER: I'm getting a lot of e-mails from people saying -- defending the Obama administration, saying, "Well, look, what could the federal government have done?"

I'm no expert, but I can tell you two things just from being here on the ground that I know they could have done. NOAA could not have -- could have actually made an effort over the last month to figure out how much oil was actually leaking from -- from that leak. NOAA was going along with BP all along, saying 5,000 barrels, and in fact, no one was saying, it doesn't even matter how much because it's not going to affect the cleanup. That just doesn't make any sense to me.

And the EPA could have been doing more to test on some of these dispersants. Now, they say they're testing, but this is after a month of letting more dispersants be released here than probably just about anywhere else in the world.

Those are two things that -- I mean, and again, I'm not particularly smart, but I can see on the ground here, those two things are things the federal government could have done in answer to the e- mails I'm getting.

I've got to go. I'm out of time, David. I appreciate you being on tonight.


COOPER: We'll have you on tomorrow, as well.

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