I dissent. Not about the reality of it all. Maybe Obama has indeed responded too slowly. About that, I don’t know. I would only say that just because he has been taking his time about making big speeches about it doesn’t mean he hasn’t kept abreast of it.
No, my dissent concerns the political significance of all this. I think this disaster could be the making of the Obama presidency, in much the same way that the Oklahoma bomb rescued President Clinton at a time when he was staring the ignominy of a one-term presidency in the face. As I said in this posting here, and as others have explained in greater detail, the Oklahoma bombing enabled Clinton to completely change the political narrative in the USA and to put the Republicans on the back foot – which was why no seriously good Republican candidate was even willing to stand against Clinton when Clinton was trying to get re-elected and why the bloke they did pick made such a confused mess of his campaign.
I think this oil spill could be about to do the same kind of thing for President Obama. The odd thing is, the Democrats, egged on by ex-President Clinton, who has been trying to relive his own greatest political triumph, have been so busy trying to paint the Tea Partiers as Oklahoma bombers, that they seem to have been a bit slow to see the potential of this oil spill. Which, unlike Clinton’s fabrications, is for real. Certainly, Clinton himself didn’t get this. It isn’t Oklahoma, but this oil spill looks to me, for the Democrats, just as good. Big Oil drills off the coast of the USA, just as Sarah Palin said they should be doing much more of, and causes an environmental catastrophe, of the kind perfectly calculated to show that without the Federal Government going flat out and chucking money at the problem like there is no tomorrow, the people in the frontline of this disaster are ruined. They need their government. And those Tea Partiers, blathering away about the folly of government spending and the ability and necessity of people standing on their own feet and not begging for government charity? True, they are not psycho bombers. They didn’t actually blow up the oil rig. (Well, they probably didn’t.) But they are, politically, something almost as bad. They are just plain wrong.
This is how the Democrats will spin it. Why do I say that? Because if I were a Democrat that’s how I’d spin it.
Any alleged delay on the part of President Obama in responding to this crisis may actually play into his hands, because this will serve to prove (a) that President Obama didn’t panic and waited until he had the full facts before mouthing off about it, and (b) did not seize gleefully on this crisis for political purposes. And it’s true. At first, he didn’t. (If he did, he did it very, very cleverly, i.e. absolutely without appearing to.)
When the oil hits the coast during the next few days, a double disaster could then unfold in the USA. There will be the oil hitting the coast. And, there will be a reinvigorated pro-Obama, pro-Big-Government team, laying into the Tea Partiers with a vigour that they haven’t been able to muster since they got their man elected in the first place. And the Tea Partiers could be seriously in retreat for the first time. Those elections that are coming up suddenly look very different.
The big difference between now and the time of the Oklahoma bombing is that now, there is no Democrat media monopoly. There is an internet out there, in which the Tea Partier’s intellectual leaders can explain, at least to the Tea Partiers, why all that I have written above is wrong. This oil spill doesn’t prove what the Democrats are going to say it proves. The Tea Party argument remains utterly right. That money should be spent on protecting people from this disaster just shows how important it is not to waste money on all the other stupid government projects the government does now waste money on. Actually the private sector could be doing a better job cleaning this up, if only it is allowed to. The President should stay out of it. The scale of the disaster is being exaggerated by Democrats for political purpose. Whatever. We shall see.
But me, I am pessimistic about this. As I lay in my bed earlier today, I was hearing BBC news bulletins on BBC Radio 3, in among the BBC’s classical music output, and I definitely thought I detected the shape of political arguments to come, and not just in the USA. No mention of Obama delays. In the first of those reports linked to above, there is video of Obama saying he and the government were tracking it from the get go. No effort will be spared. Your government is answering your call, to rescue you from the big bad private sector.
As I often add when writing pieces about the USA, I don’t live there and have never even been there. So commenters should feel entirely free, as they would feel anyway, to tell me that I have this all wrong. But, as of now, I don’t think I have.