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The Audacity of Ruin: Risk-Adverse President Enables High-Risk, Rogue Driller

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By Robert S. Becker

Iraq and Afghanistan are not yet wholly "Obama's wars," but the White House's piece-meal, deferential retreat from out-of-control Gulf deluge has become his and his alone. The Big Spill dramatizes, furthermore, how a once savvy politician squanders his first, best opportunity to redeem a steadily faltering presidency.

If heroes emerge by resolving daunting dilemmas, especially man-made, this paragon of caution remains pedestrian and reactive, as he plays it safe by risking the safety of the Gulf. Yet when a risk-adverse president relegates the safety, and survival, of our most valuable coastal region to the reckless polluter who imperils it, he ironically turns high-stake gambler by default. Failure to act under challenge qualifies as enabling an addict, and BP certainly qualifies, repeatedly enjoining all the world in its reckless oil misadventures.

In fact, the Gulf faces a multiple of crises, beyond 3850 oil rigs, fragmentary Katrina restoration and massive overfishing, one competing with the Big Spill. There's an oxygen-depleted, agriculture-induced "dead zone" the size of New Jersey just west of the oil slick, in part resulting from upstream corn-ethanol obsessions. As to which is worse, spill or dead zone, "it's a really tough call," says Nathaniel Ostrom, Michigan State zoologist, "There's no real answer to that question." http://www.sfchron.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/07/06/MNF91E84SL.DT L

No Claim of Ignorance

On July 5, the Wall Street Journal

click here=WSJ_hpp_LEFTTopStories

reported a federal circuit court a year ago shocked the Obama administration by calling "irrational" its environment oil spill restoration plans, judging this government "unprepared for a major spill at sea." Bingo. Echoing Bush-Cheney machinations, Obama's DOJ pressured the Court to reverse itself, thus permitting guess what? the BP-Deepwater Horizon time-bomb shellacking the Gulf like a tsunami. Double bingo.

If there's White House guilt from such judicial chicanery, it's invisible, along with obliviousness to tying your political tail to the BP tiger. Today, AP reported BP already has a "backup for its [relief well] back-up" gambit. "The relief well itself is not a slam dunk," said Gene Beck, Texas A&M petroleum professor, and no guarantee even two relief wells stop the flow. Considering BP estimates two billion pressured gallons of oil in this reservoir, AP concludes, "History is on BP's side, but the depth of the seafloor isn't."

Imagine what "life zones" endure if 20X today's sludge pollutes the Gulf? Perhaps the $10 billion in annual federal oil surtaxes clamped down administration judgment. Think even $20 billion of unsecured BP promisory notes will handle that? Though the party colors differ, we're in W. territory, so politically blinkered this White House obscures the magnitude of disaster, presidential options, or courage to follow its own chief of staff, "You never want a serious crisis go to waste." This one is wasting away, in every sense of the word.

Obama Blowing Redemption

Paralysis and omission, especially against emergencies, kill more presidencies than blunders allowing defensive, political spin. Military fiascos didn't kill W. but abandoning his own besieged Gulf citizens did. Redemptive presidential moments are few and far between, and Obama is blowing his best shot. Recall LBJ on Vietnam, Nixon on Watergate, Carter with Iran, or every president since Reagan willful blindness outpoints initial errors and tarnish legacies.

Though destructive Bush-Cheney deregulation invited big oil spills, Obama facilitated the time bomb, favoring offshore drilling and bad permits. Congress is no great help, nor is the public, especially since the media has been shackled by nasty censorship, prohibiting upfront reporting or photography. A fuming Anderson Cooper assailed press restrictions, channeled from Obama's point man, Thad Allen, to by every local tin badge or hired BP gun.

The Triple Whammy

The Big Spill called for a wider S.O.S. as dire as for Katrina (with larger range and duration of impacts). The result a triple whammy fueling the mother of all spills that feeds on itself:

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Educated at Rutgers College (BA) and UC Berkeley (Ph.D, English) Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, high end audio company from '80 to '92. From '92-02 he did marketing (more...)
 
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What sort of drastic, unfixable, tragic catastroph... by Robert S. Becker on Friday, Jul 9, 2010 at 7:49:45 AM
Just like the corps. that I worked for. Can't solv... by marko polo on Friday, Jul 9, 2010 at 9:55:24 AM
Salon's Glenn Greenwald had a good piece a few wee... by Robert S. Becker on Friday, Jul 9, 2010 at 11:12:13 AM
adverse is a fine word, just not the right one.... by Robert S. Becker on Friday, Jul 9, 2010 at 10:55:35 AM
Obama has a job offer from BP as a mensch, so he d... by Paul from Potomac on Friday, Jul 9, 2010 at 11:45:36 AM