Il manifesto, Italy
Oil on Obama
By Luca Celada
Translated By Roberta Mura
23 May 2010
Edited by Piotr Bielinski
Italy - Il manifesto - Original Article (Italian)
The oil slick that finally beached on the coasts of Louisiana is posing an increasing threat to the White House. From Robert Redford to MSNBC’s anchor Chris Matthews and Clinton strategist James Carville, the groundswell of opposition among Democrats and Liberals has raised its voice to criticize Obama’s handling of the crisis. This friendly fire has Obamists worried that the black tide could seriously compromise the administration of the president.
In fact, the Conservatives immediately tried to portray the disaster as “Obama’s Katrina,” even though the deep water incident is a far cry from the hurricane in New Orleans, soaked with the criminal and racist negligence of the Bush administration. After a month of oil eruption, however, the frustration and desperation in the Gulf has the potential to flow into a serious political issue.
The problem arises in connection with the decision to outsource the crisis management to BP — the law itself provides for those responsible to make up for the disaster, taking charge of the expenses on behalf of the government. This led to Obama’s decision to announce close supervision (“I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP”), and to assign some federal staff to the BP technicians in charge of the cleanup operation. Sending the directors of the EPA, the NOAA and the Coast Guard to work as guests in the BP/Shell nest does not provide the best PR image — especially when the oilmen get to keep control of the press and the images of the oil leak (the latter being made known publicly only on order of the legislature).
After a news crew was threatened with arrest by a joint BP contractor/U.S. Coast Guard squad for trying to reach an off-limits beach, even the AP started to wonder why BP is still in charge, and many people are wondering the same. In short, the discontent spreads, or at least, what is spreading is the concern that the qualities of Obama as an inspirational leader might not be enough to avoid being swept away by a crisis that requires more direct and steady intervention by the government.
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