Most Americans at this point must be wondering why, after the catastrophic Mexican Gulf oil spill every oil skimming boat in America isn't there, or en route. And why wasn't that the case from the start of the spill weeks ago?
As Dana Milbank's angry piece in the Sunday, May 30th Washington Post, Obama's oil spill response: Too much culpability, too much passivity says:
"For eight years we had a president who refused to accept blame. Now we have one who seems to enjoy it. In the hour President Obama spent at the podium in the East Room last week holding a news conference on the Gulf oil spill, he practiced every form of self-flagellation short of bringing out a cat-o'-nine-tails. 'The culture had not fully changed in MMS' — the agency that polices oil drilling – 'and absolutely I take responsibility for that,' he said. 'There wasn't sufficient urgency.'"
Ok, Mr. President, but that photo op at the Gulf on Friday, May 28th, didn't do much except cause British Petroleum to bring out hundreds of workers who shortly disappeared after your Air Force One departure.
Millbank goes on and on about the rhetoric. Obama "decorated the East Room with wuddas, cuddas and shuddas: 'We should have busted through those constraints. . . . pre-deploying boom would have been the right thing to do . . . I do think our efforts fell short. . . . They should have pushed them sooner. . . . I think that it took too long.'"
According to Milbank, even liberal Democrat James Carville, a Louisianan, "exploded Wednesday on Good Morning America about Obama's 'political stupidity' in the spill. 'He could be commandeering tankers and making BP bring tankers in and clean this up. They could be deploying people. . . . It just looks like he's not involved in this. Man, you got to get down here and take control of this.' "
Instead, Obama rhetorically took the boot off BP's throat. His Republican critics like to call him a socialist, but in this case he hasn't been enough of one."
This reminds one of Hurricane Katrina—only worse, since the hurricane subsided after doing its awesome damage, but its havoc can be repaired over time. However, the Gulf will never be the same again.
After my highest hopes, President Obama's performance so far has offered a number of major disappointments to me.
Another aspect: His surge in the Middle East was a terrible blunder. To woo the war hawks, like Lyndon Johnson, he took another plunge into an unwinnable situation in a religiously, ethnically, never, never land, which will clearly end badly. Taking Americans out of that mix can only be the first step toward escaping the curse of George W. Bush.
Perhaps to me, an American, who remains proud of being one, the most disturbing fact comes from our beloved country having turned itself into a militarily aggressive empire, as our involvement in the Middle East discloses. Chalmers Johnson has written well on in several books, including The Sorrows of Empire. Stanley Kutler has done a superb review of Johnson's work which can be found here.
The U.S.'s dreary, expensive, involvement with Korea, Vietnam and now the Middle East. US policy reminds me of the many European dynastic wars–the War of the Roses, the Thirty Years War, and the Hundred Years War) and our apparent absurd belief that Iran will use nukes if it ever gets them gets underlined by another May 29 Post piece, "Options studied for a possible Pakistan strike" :
"The U.S. military is reviewing options for a unilateral strike in Pakistan in the event that a successful attack on American soil is traced to the country's tribal areas, according to senior military officials. Ties between the alleged Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and elements of the Pakistani Taliban have sharpened the Obama administration's need for retaliatory options, the officials said. They stressed that a U.S. reprisal would be contemplated only under extreme circumstances, such as a catastrophic attack that leaves President Obama convinced that the ongoing campaign of CIA drone strikes is insufficient. 'Planning has been reinvigorated in the wake of Times Square,' one of the officials said."
Another Chalmers Johnson book, Blowback, cites earlier examples of how one escalation leads to more. Waging war, profitable as it may be for US defense contractors, does not lead to peace. When the next terrorist attack comes to the US, how will we respond?
And here is another major basis for my current disaffection with the Obama Administration's policies. As I predicted in my April 26, 2010 piece, the real immigration fight that has needed to occur for decades was triggered by the passage in Arizona of a new immigration law.
In fairness to Obama's record so far, this Democrat admits satisfaction at seeing passage of the landmark health reform legislation, which will gain supporters over time—if it proves to be workable and affordable.
"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence".
If other states decide, and many may, to adopt the Arizona statute, based on the decades long, dismal malfeasance by our Federal government on the issue of real immigration reform, should we be surprised?
Come November the anti-incumbent mood of Americans may sweep into office popular but ideologically radical new legislators on both the left and right.
Will they understand that our precious planet is in crisis, more serious than at any point in human history?
Such a time requires careful, thoughtful, patient action.
I can't say we so far have seen that leadership so far—from either major party.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.