On his first day in office, January 20, 2009, President Barack Obama issued a statement on the White House Web site promising Gulf Coast residents that his administration would not fail them like he accused his predecessor President George W. Bush.
Eighteen months later, those arrogant words are coming back to haunt Obama as the Gulf Coast is facing the third month of failure by Obama to marshall sufficient resources to protect the region from the massive BP oil spill.
“President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.”
Since then, the White House has edited the comment to remove the personal insult to President Bush so that it now reads:
“President Obama will keep the broken promises to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur. Within weeks of his inauguration, he made a renewed commitment to partner with the people of the Gulf Coast to rebuild now, stronger than ever.”
Based on the Politico report, the White House also edited out verbiage bragging about Obama’s post-Katrina trips to the region:
The site also points out that Obama “visited thousands of Hurricane survivors in the Houston Convention Center and later took three more trips to the region” and worked with the Congressional Black Caucus to help rebuild in the aftermath of Katrina.
The Obama administration has left a destructive trail of catastrophic failures in its wake over the BP oil spill, beginning with its failure to ensure that an adequate disaster plan was in place for BP’s Deepwater Horizon well to its failure to secure enough skimmers and booms to prevent the spill from reaching the shores of the Gulf states.
Obama had to be shamed into making his first overnight trip to the Gulf states last week. It took nearly two months for him to speak directly with BP executives. It wasn’t until last week that he acted like he was engaged, but even then he only spent half the week on the spill. The other half he spent on the golf course and at a ball game.
Obama’s response has been called “lackadaisical” by RNC Chairman Michael Steele who called on Obama to rein in his leisurely lifestyle until the leaking oil well is plugged.
Since the oil well blew on April 28, Obama has taken two vacations, played seven rounds of golf, entertained the pop star Bono and been entertained by Paul McCartney. He has also attended the theater several times, a Major League basball game, political fundraisers and has hosted several White House parties and barbeques.
Yet Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel ripped BP CEO Tony Hayward this weekend for taking one day off for a yacht race in Britain.
Team Obama is putting the word out to the media they think they’ve done enough on the oil spill with last week’s half-week effort and the resulting $20 billion shakedown of BP and are ready to move on. The Atlantic’s White House stenographer Marc Ambinder previewed“>previewed the Obama administration’s attitude last night:
MOVING ON?: The White House hoped Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s appearance on Meet the Press would be seen as a pivot away from the debate about Obama’s crisis management. But with four visits to the Gulf and the BP escrow deal on the books, whether the administration can successfully turn to non-BP subjects remains to be seen. The variables: if the administration can begin to contain the oil, people will start to focus on other things as well.
The Washington Post picked up the ball for Team Obama this morning with an article titled “Turning the Corner on the Gulf Spill?:
Has the president turned the corner on the oil drilling crisis?
This week’s schedule for President Obama suggests that the White House believes he has. After dominating the conversation in Washington all last week, the environmental crisis in the Gulf of Mexico does not appear front and center on the White House calendar.
…the administration is clearly expecting — maybe hoping — that the intense public attention on the spill fades a bit, starting with this week, giving them a chance to turn to other subjects.
…Is it logical to expect that those subjects will replace the seemingly endless cable news chatter about the oil spill? Perhaps not. There is, after all, the never-ending video of the oil that continues to gush out of the bottom of the sea.
Is The Post channeling the White House view that that the oil spill has now been reduced to “cable news chatter” and a Web cam of the leak so the administration can now turn its attention away from the millions of Americans on the Gulf Coast whose lives and businesses have been ruined?
It would appear so.
“Never again,” promised Obama on his first day in office. Never again.