Obama misses opportunity to lead on energy independence

Here, because it’s easier to cut and paste than write something myself, is a clip from Jason Linkins:

…I am really not entirely sure what the point to this Oval Office address was! Were you looking for something that resembled a fully-realized action plan, describing a detailed approach to containment and clean up? Or perhaps a definitive statement, severing the command and control that BP has largely enjoyed, in favor of a structured, centralized federal response? Maybe you were looking for a roadmap-slash-timetable for putting America on a path to a clean energy future? Well, this speech was none of those things…

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  1. Mark
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Text of the President’s address can be found here.

  2. Mark
    Posted June 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    It’s not that he isn’t saying good stuff. It’s a good speech. It’s just that I was hoping for more. I keep expecting for him to be someone that he’s not. He’s not the kind of transformative figure that I was hoping for when I campaigned for him.

  3. Knox
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    I haven’t verified it yet, but, as I understand it, he didn’t speak with the CEO of BP until about two months into the spill. While I don’t think there is much that he could have done, that’s totally unacceptable. And his response now is tepid at best.

  4. Bob
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    He just appears more and more to be an empty suit. He talks a great game but really is just a very middle of the road, very safe politician. More Clintonian than even the Clintons themselves. I wonder if he didn’t want to win the presidency more than he wanted to actually be the president. He just seems far too cool and detached for the grim reality of the job in the current climate of Washington. We needed the boldest, most fearless leader since FDR to get us back on track. It’s pretty obvious Obama is not the guy. We needed a progressive George W. Bush. Someone committed to his agenda and reckless enough to push it through regardless what the public had to say about it.

  5. EOS
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    You guys don’t get it at all. He’s forming another committee. They’ll declare an emergency and draft a 10,000 page piece of legislation to solve the crisis. Then Congress will be pressured to push through the legislation before they’ve had a chance to read it regardless what the public had to say about it. No one will be able to oppose the legislation because it will be vaguely written and leave the most critical decisions to his energy czars and large groups of pencil pushers in the executive branch to be determined at some future date. Once it passes, it will give wide latitude for Obama to do whatever the hell he wants. He announced his war on oil companies last night and won’t stop until they become either Federalized or strangled by regulations. There goes another industry in the web of socialized government.

  6. Michael
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Sigh. Just reading the word “Clintonian” in reference to anyone in power makes me both sad and tired.

  7. Michael
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    The only thing propping me up lately is that the longest and most expensive war (the one on drugs) is finally over.

    Wait, it’s over, right?

  8. kjc
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    “strangled by regulations”

    EOS, you really need a Gulf cruise.

  9. Peter Larson
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Personally, I like to see environmentally hazardous industries strangled by regulations. Don’t ask me why.

  10. EOS
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Great, then you won’t mind another 30% or more unemployed when our economy shuts down.

  11. Edward
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I listened to the speech, and it sounded to me like Obama was making excuses for BP.

    I think it’s time to talk 3rd Party.

  12. Oliva
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Douglas Brinkley, popular and prolific historian and now prof at Rice, formerly of New Orleans, has said that he knows for sure Obama is planning to undertake a WPA-style project in the Gulf region. Haven’t heard anything else about it but want to believe it. It would be far-reaching, employ tons of people, and address problems from Katrina and pre-Katrina as well as restoring wetlands and so on.

    I continue to appreciate the direction this president is trying to go in many ways. I think there are more urgent matters to address than I can count and this in a completely unhinged sociocultural moment. I’m with Andrew Sullivan, who keeps quoting the Road Runner (“meep-meep”) when pointing to Obama’s strategic approaches, undertaken with patience, intelligence, and a good sense of the craziness of U.S. society in our time. This is not head-in-the-sand raw Obama love–just frustration at how quickly many people on the ideological extremes got to bashing and bullying and making threats. How to have a good country and work together toward solutions with so much animosity and impatience and taking theory for reality?

    I wondered how much Obama and his aides thought about Carter’s so-called malaise speech while preparing his address last eve (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/carter/filmmore/ps_crisis.html). Carter’s speech was ridiculed, still is, but it was so wise and good; if you read it today, you might even cry to hear his prescience and wisdom and consider the road we took instead–and so after the Reagan years of me-first/fuck-the-world and then the who-cares/fuck-off Bush/Cheney years (with the Clinton maybe-let’s-not-rock-the-boat-much years in between), we come around to Obama trying to rephrase Carter’s urgent call in a way that might possibly get us to move in essential ways. But this in a time of way too many unhelpful forces and impulses.

    Even so: onward, through the muck and worry. I sure hope Brinkley is right too.

  13. Meta
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Palin and O’Reilly on Obama’s address.


  14. Oliva
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    I often appreciate Steve Benen’s comments about political matters; he’s earnest, with a sense of humor, and solidly liberal-minded–and so damn calm (seeming). He goes into more detail in the blog post, but here’s his basic reaction to Obama’s speech:

    If the media’s and pundits’ reactions to President Obama’s Oval Office address are intended as a guide, I’m apparently supposed to be unimpressed. Maybe I approached the remarks with lower expectations — it’s not as if Obama was going to announce that everything in the Gulf is suddenly fine — but I thought the speech got the job done in a workmanlike kind of way.

    In the larger sense, the remarks were intended to serve several purposes: tell the nation about the status of the response; commit to following through for those affected; pledge accountability for those responsible; present a vision for the road ahead.

    If that’s the checklist going in — and for me, it was — I’m inclined to put a check next to all of them.


    (Earlier I mentioned Brinkley’s mention of a WPA-style effort for the Gulf, which I guess is what the president named last eve. Soon, I hope, he fills out the picture much more compellingly; I’ve heard so many people wishing for a WPA for our time really since Obama was elected. Brinkley spoke about it with excitement and certainty, whereas Obama was measured and concerned with urging Americans, reasonable and reckless ones and those in between, to see the seriousness of the bigger energy situation. He’s dealing with a whole bunch of Americans who knew they couldn’t continue heedlessly buying big cars and big houses and didn’t want to adjust their lifestyles and then just a couple years later are screaming at government for being too authoritarian/ubiquitous yet not saving them from themselves. What to do.)

  15. Kelly
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got worse video for you – Bush removing the ban on off-shore drilling.


  16. Elvis Parsley
    Posted June 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Oliva, for trying to put a positive spin on it. Like others, I was not impressed, but there were some kernels. For instance, I liked this quote. I do not think that he went far enough though.

    “No matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean – because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.”

  17. Posted June 16, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    At least he got BP, according to news stories today, to put $20 billion into escrow, and cancel their dividend to shareholders.

  18. Andy C
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Hillary 2012!

  19. Edward
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    My sarcasm detector isn’t working today, Andy. Could you let me know whether or not you’re being serious?

  20. Posted June 17, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Yep. I knew from his record when I voted for him that he wasn’t liberal, but I was hoping he might become more-liberal when faced with the task of cleaning up our messes. Not so much so far…

  21. TR7
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Maybe you didn’t like the speech because you weren’t smart enough.


  22. Sarah Britmen
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    See also Rachel Maddow.


  23. Andy C
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Looking back, Hilary would have been the better candidate. Really what has he done that she wouldn’t have done? I voted for Obama but didn’t do any campaigning, button wearing, etc. After the 2004 loss, I’m done with it all. Nixon did more for the environment than Obama is. Pretty sad.

  24. Oliva
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Andrew Sullivan again (“Getting Shit Done” and “Getting Shit Done II”), for what it’s worth:

    If leftwing populism in America were anything like as potent as right-wing populism – Matt Bai has a superb analysis of this in the NYT today – there would be cheering in the streets. But there’s nada, but more leftist utopianism and outrage on MSNBC. And since there’s no end to this spill without relief wells, this is about as much as Obama can do, short of monitoring clean-up efforts, or rather ongoing management of the ecological nightmare of an unstopped and unstoppable wound in the ocean floor.

    I sure understand why people feel powerless and angry about the vast forces that control our lives and over which we seem to have only fitful control – big government and big business. But it seems to me vital to keep our heads and remain focused on what substantively can be done to address real problems, and judge Obama on those terms . . .


    Every so often Sullivan, a fairly liberal-minded “conservative,” painstakingly enumerates Obama’s accomplishments. It baffles me why so many people overlook the really worthwhile things that have gotten done in a year and a half, especially in light of how rapidly the previous administration brought us to the teetering edge of doom. I go a little nuts thinking back to Election 2000, Nader, ouch! (Nader’s seeming inability to imagine the realities of women, nonwhites, etc., always hurt too much to trust he could represent us well). But the point is our past follies plus some wishful thinking got us here, and now we must assiduously dig out from the rank and terrible hole we dug for ourselves and consider a lot of things more ably than we have done to date. I hope!

  25. Bob
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I hate to admit that you may be right about Hilary having been the better candidate after all. She was the obvious, beholden corporate dem but I suspect she might have displayed a touch more testicle than Obama has. Probably would have been the same result on every issue in the end though. The only real advantage I see to Obama at this point is he has managed to ignite this crazy tea party element that seems to be fracturing the Republican party in glorious fashion.

  26. Oliva
    Posted June 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Things are shaking up, thank goodness. Olbermann, whom I credit, with Stephen Colbert and some others, with saving some of us during the AWFUL years and getting us to something better–and whom I therefore love and thank ongoingly–is fed up with Daily Kos. In the quotation I cut- and pasted earlier, Sullivan grouched about MSNBC (not new, his annoyance with the cable station). Now Keith O. is fed up with Kos, It really has been seeming that some so-called progressives (Naomi Klein, for example) have been sounding too much like kooks on the far right really since just after Obama took office–maybe is a sense of entitlement getting bitten by reality, plus a need for a paycheck, and the two sides are bending to form a circle that looks libertarian and is missing heart. I’m happy for a shakeup, hope it helps land us somewhere better than what is now at play in this doggone country.

  27. Ted
    Posted June 18, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Colbert on the speech.


  28. King Jippo
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Oliva, you act like politics is the end, not the means.
    You get so excited about talking heads, it is really hard for me to believe.
    But ask yourself what is really happening in Washington and I think you will have to admit; nothing.

  29. Jiggs
    Posted June 21, 2010 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    Peter Larson said, “Personally, I like to see environmentally hazardous industries strangled by regulations. Don’t ask me why.”

    …and EOS responded, “Great, then you won’t mind another 30% or more unemployed when our economy shuts down.”

    EOS, sorry, but that doesn’t make any sense. Using the Deepwater Horizon disaster as an example, think about how many people don’t have jobs as a result of this. Not just the Deepwater Horizon workers, but all of the people in the Gulf who are affected by this.

    While it can be argued by BP, Halliburton and Transocean that regulations were in place, they were extremely loosely regulated to say the least. Regulations cost greedy corporations, their overpaid executives and shareholders MONEY. They do not cause the loss of jobs. If the regulations and safety requirements had been adhered to by BP, Halliburton and Transocean, then this would have never happened, and a lot of people would still have jobs. Your argument is invalid.

  30. Oliva
    Posted June 21, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Not “so excited,” KJ (though I guess I can see how you got this impression). Mentioned the talking heads in response to earlier mention about a talking head and other things in my head at the moment. Have turned to Sullivan’s occasional lists of the president’s efforts and accomplishments, however, and appreciate his trouble in keeping track–as it seems like a whole lot of people began griping almost right out of the gate and missed acknowledging some key and welcome changes. And yet, and yet–we have miles to go–and quoting Wallace Stevens, “the imperfect is our paradise.” (But I do get frustrated re. the talking heads, the ones who gripe and rage in order to have material but fail to acknowledge what has been made better, even if it seems too slight.)

  31. mSS
    Posted June 24, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I don’t know anything about this guy, he might be a crank, but this story isn’t completely unbelievable.


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