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Monday, May 27, 2024

Obama and the oil spill

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We are in catastrophic times.

The BP oil spill that has penetrated the Gulf of Mexico, which has now spread to barrier islands off Alabama and Mississippi and is nearing Florida, is leaving hundreds of fishermen unable to provide for their families, wildlife in possible danger, Americans on high alert, and constant finger pointing between oil bigwigs and the federal government.

All for an incident that should have never happened in the first place.

In its operations, BP failed to adhere to federal mandates, environmental guidelines, engineering best practices, and even common sense. In addition, a recent report by the New Orleans Times-Picayune states that “hours before the explosion, BP sent home a team of experts hired to test the well’s cement lining.” The experts were told to leave before they performed the test that would have detected the problem.

So while ultra-conservative Rand Paul, who is so full of himself these days that he doesn’t understand the importance of thinking before he speaks, urges us to accept the fact that “accidents happen,” I say this was no accident. It was a preventable disaster.

Not only was the oil-rig explosion preventable, it was also a disaster that killed 11 people. It seems that in everyone’s attempt to place blame on someone else, people have forgotten or overlooked the 11 lives that were lost. Such amnesia is why I agree with the government’s plan to prosecute anyone found responsible.

There have been many people who criticized President Barack Obama for his delayed response to the oil disaster. Some have even compared Obama’s oil spill reaction to that of his predecessor’s during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Not so.

From the beginning, Obama and his administration have been engaged with the oil spill. As a matter of fact, everything behind the scenes was done as early as possible.

However, I think the real issue people have with Obama regarding this catastrophe is his demeanor. Since his days on the campaign trail and even throughout his presidency, Obama has been praised for his cool demeanor. Many 30-somethings and younger call it “swagger.”

Regardless of the term used to reference Obama’s mannerisms, “it” is what has some upset. People are afraid and angry over the oil spill – specifically people who live near the Gulf Coast. They don’t want calm coolness; they want to see that their president is angry and that he is empathetic. They want to feel confident that Obama can and will make it all better. Right now that confidence is far-fetched.

What has happened throughout Obama’s presidency is that, because he is the first Black to hold the nation’s highest office, he’s constantly scrutinized. He wants to be careful not to overly offend anyone. However, in his effort to please people he has been reluctant to pull the trigger during key times in his administration.

Now more than ever, Obama has to speak out more frequently and be firmer in his approach. People want him to take charge, devise a plan and stay the course.

As devastating as this oil spill is, there is a lesson to be learned: the United States needs to actively pursue alternative fuel resources. When oil supplies are mismanaged or we have an environmental catastrophe, we’re held responsible as a country. We’re held responsible because nearly all of us depend on gasoline and petroleum from other countries. The current predicament we’re in with this oil spill is a perfect example of why America needs to be less dependent on other countries.

Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Obama recently said “the role of government is to do for the people what they cannot do better for themselves.”

I concur. So let’s get busy, Mr. President.

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