President Obama today appeared in the Rose Garden to drive home the point that BP is bad people and he’s got nothing to do with them. And by the way, they might land in jail too.
We will absolutely continue to hold B.P. and any other responsible parties accountable for financial losses born by the people in the region . . . If our laws were broken, leading to this death and destruction, my solemn pledge is that we will bring those responsible to justice on behalf of the victims of this catastrophe and the people of the Gulf region.
And Obama took a moment to blame former President George W. Bush for the oil spill.
When Interior Secretary Ken Salazar took office, for example, he found a Minerals and Management Services Agency that had been plagued by corruption for years, corruption that was underscored by a recent inspector general’s report that uncovered appalling activity that took place before last year.
Secretary Salazar immediately took steps to clean up that corruption but this oil spill made clear that more reforms are needed. For years there’s been a far-too-cozy relationship between oil companies and the agencies that regulate them.
Notice the slight shift in emphasis from last week’s press conference. Instead of simply saying that his own administration failed to do enough to reform the previous regime, Obama suggests he could not have known he didn’t go far enough until “this oil spill made clear that more reforms are needed.”
Let’s hope the effort to maintain Obama’s political standing by threatening BP does not affect BP’s approach to stopping the effusion of oil from the ocean floor by shifting their priority from ending the crisis to covering their tracks. BP and the government should be cooperating to end this. Obama’s BP-bashing, deserved or not, cannot promote the teamwork we need now.