The Obama administration defended its response to the oil spill on Sunday and insisted it had not been overly reliant on BP in assessing the disaster.
However, even as the administration sought to reassure the public that it was doing everything in its power to address the environmental threat, Ken Salazar, the interior secretary, acknowledged that the US was inevitably facing a “massive restoration of the gulf coast”.
“The scenario is . . . very grave,” Mr Salazar said on NBC’s Meet the Press. He warned that it could take up to 90 days for industry and government efforts to succeed in building a relief well 3.5 miles below the ocean floor to stop the flow of oil.
Hours before President Barack Obama arrived on the gulf coast to survey the damage, his administration was insisting that it had not made any missteps in the early days of the crisis.
“This was a situation that was treated as a possible catastrophic failure from day one,” Janet Napolitano, homeland security secretary, said on NBC. “We had independent projections being done at the beginning and realise this incident evolved over time.” LINK
Note to President Obama: Once you start DEFENDING your actions, you have already screwed up.
Ok let’s review. President Bush was EVISCERATED over his administration’s perceived poor response to Hurricane Katrina. That despite the fact that there was a total failure on the part of state and local officials who are the first links in the disaster response chain. Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco had no idea how to deal with a natural disaster as they are clearly not disaster management professionals. So instead of deferring to the experts they vacillated and collapsed at critical moments and it cost our country and the citizens of Louisiana dearly. For his part President Bush relied on Mike Brown as the head of FEMA. Only problem with that, like Nagin and Blanco he wasn’t a disaster professional either. He was just another appointed political hack.
At the end of the day the federal response was poorly coordinated and President Bush was thereafter saddled with the disastrous results. Now President Obama is getting a taste of that very same medicine.
Unlike the Katrina disaster the federal government has ENORMOUS jurisdiction over the oil industry and disaster response related to spills. Unfortunately Janet Napolitano is (as I have pointed out more than once) clearly not qualified to be the head of DHS let alone supervisor of FEMA. She has no business being the leader of our nations disaster response efforts. Further FEMA should once and for all be removed from DHS and become a stand-alone agency that reports directly to the President as in the past. Only with a first rate emergency response professional at it’s helm. When will these politicians learn that you don’t cut corners on disaster management? It only comes back to bite you on the ass.
Not only was there a delay in the response to this latest disaster by the federal government, there was a widespread failure to understand the nature of the crisis. Secretary Napolitano admitted that she didn’t even know if the Dept. of Defense had resources that could help stem the crisis. Really? Stunning admission. That’s YOUR JOB madam Secretary and YOU BLEW IT. Compound that by her delay in declaring the catastrophe an “event of national significance”. This is necessary in order to mobilize the federal resources required to mitigate an event of this magnitude. How many days were lost because of that screw up? One is too many in this case.
Now I am tempted to give Obama a pass here. I really am because I understand the nature of this beast. In reality there isn’t anything he can do at this point except to try and look Presidential and re-assure everyone that he is in charge and everything is under control. But I am not going to do that. He owns this incident just like Bush owned Katrina. That’s the burden of leadership. Obama appointed Napolitano because of political considerations even though there are plenty of people with much better qualifications and credentials in emergency operations. So that’s where the buck stops. At the Oval Office. Now lest see who holds him accountable.