With the British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico the present all-consuming issue of his presidency, Barack Obama decided to go on the offensive, somewhat, to tell his side of the sordid story. He sought to reassure a growing skeptical America that he was in charge and painted a rosy picture of what will happen down the road. There were many "ifs" and some unanswered questions in a sometimes emotional speech. As speeches go this one was classic and vintage Obama: some facts, some spin, sprinkled with tough talk and delivered in his engaging, deliberate style. His supporters loved it; his detractors hated it, and those in betwixt remained ambivalent to the president's public relations efforts.
But I have to hand it to the president he did quiet some critics on the right who were all jumping about in glee about the spill being "Obama's Katrina." Others still felt that he looked "presidential" whatever that is supposed to mean. Maybe it was the dark suit or the tie. How does someone "look presidential?" Or maybe it's because he did not resort to a stupid choice of ghetto language and again threaten to kick BP in the derriere.
The speech was great for what President Obama did not say. In fact the questions left unanswered shouted in a loud cacophony of silence that was completely deafening. He did not say if he was going to order his Attorney General Judge Eric Holder to bring criminal proceedings against BP. Maybe BP is "too big to be dragged into court." Still, in the president's own words "BP was reckless." If that is the case then that recklessness is to blame for 11 people losing their lives and over 20 injured. This rises to the level of criminal negligence. The facts are there: BP cut corners and knew by its "reckless actions" that it was putting the lives of workers in potential danger. Putting profit over people BP ignored expert advice that its actions would result in deadly outcomes.
If ever there is a prima facie case to bring criminal charges against BP and those who gave the green light to operate in this slip-shod manner without regards for the lives of its employees then BP fits every criteria again and again and again. There is a Caribbean saying used to describe these kinds of situations: "when you are big, you are large." And BP is certainly very, very big and very large so prosecuting them for their criminal behavior is as likely to happen as me walking on water.