Obama is getting more and more heat these days over the BP spill, and I get it. I really do. But it is worth pointing out a pretty important difference between this and Bush’s response to Katrina. The federal government was in charge of a whole lot of services and personnel that could have responded to the hurricane better (ex: FEMA).
In contrast, the federal government doesn’t have a secret stash of vesicles capable of taking governmental employees a mile under water to repair the damaged pipeline. And until they do, we’re kinda stuck depending on BP and their equipment. In other words, we’re fucked.
And that’s what bothers people so much, I think. The President is never supposed to look this helpless, whether it is his fault or not. The explanation “Well, there is nothing we can do about it until relief wells are done, so this will continue to leak for months” is not one that will sit well with the American people. I’m not basing this on known facts or polls and such, just my understanding of politics in this country. It’s the same reason that, after 9/11, we didn’t want actual airport security, so much as we wanted security theater that was designed to make us feel better about the process, even though terror remains largely random. We expect the President to take decisive action, and even if that action has nothing to do with a good outcome, we will give him credit for it so long as the result is good. What we have here is the opposite. Obama is taking very little action, and we’re stuck with a bad result. And it will be difficult to overcome that.