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Tag Archives: Oil spill

White House Takes Little Credit for Ending Spill

Well, it looks like BP has finally stopped the leak in the Gulf, and the White House did a fairly restrained victory dance today to celebrate the news.

Here’s Obama at a meeting of AFL-CIO leaders.

It was very welcome news when we learned overnight that efforts to stop the well through what’s called a static kill appear to be working, and that a report out today by our scientists show that the vast majority of the spilled oil has been dispersed or removed from the water. So the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end.

The White House trooped out NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen and and Energy and Climate Change Czar Carol Browner to join Press Secretary Robert Gibbs for a discussion of the state of play, in a briefing that was thankfully light on breast beating and heavy on information about the operation.

Of course, the information itself made clear that there was little on which to base any credit taking the administration might have done. The stats make clear that, once oil gets away from the area of the well, at least in the Gulf, there’s not much humans can do about it.

 NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner join Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
Browner, Gibbs, Allen and Lubchenco brief the press. Wouldn't you like to party with these people?

Around 84 percent of the oil either evaporated, dissolved, dispersed naturally, was taken at the well site,  or is unaccounted for – that is, it’s either still floating around somewhere or it’s getting cleaned up off beaches.

The vaunted skimming operation, which came complete with Republican wailing about the Jones Act and White House claims of an armada of cleaning boats, picked up only three percent of the oil. Another 8 percent was chemically dispersed, while about five percent was burned.

There was, it turns about, little Obama could do in terms of cleanup. His failure was that for too much of the time he was not a clear and present leader in a moment of national crisis.

And when the Obamas take a weekend in Florida this month, the likelihood of swimming into a tarball has declined significantly.

Is Mother Nature Working for Obama?

Setting an unusually blistering pace for White House spin, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton today tried to claim credit for cleaning up the Gulf, when it’s pretty clear that most of the work is just happened on its own.

Well, if you’ve seen some of the reports out today, we’ve obviously been able to make a lot of progress on cleaning up some of the oil that’s spilled out into the Gulf and stopping the oil from coming out of the well.

Well, no you haven’t. An article in today’s New York Times notes that as much as 40 percent of the oil probably evaporated upon hitting the surface. Much has been also dissipated by storms that hit the Gulf. And oil eating bacteria appear to have gobbled up a bunch of it too.

The keystone cops trying valiantly to scoop up the rest into ships have probably only taken a small percentage of gunk out of the water.

But the President’s view is that we’re not going to rest until we ensure that we’ve cleaned up all the oil, restored the damage that’s happened to the Gulf, and make sure that the people of that region are whole again.

So the president will continue to press those bacteria to finish the job. “Eat, bacteria, eat!” he will yell from the shoreline during his upcoming token weekend vacation in the Gulf.

Obama Bullish on the Oil Spill

President Obama made damn sure to talk about the Gulf oil spill before leaving on a three day vacation to Maine today, suggesting that even if the lattest cap is not perfect, the worst of the oil spill is easily over.

Obama spoke to reporters at the White House before boarding his chopper, and in an usual display of loquaciousness, even took some questions.

Now even if a shut-in is not possible, this new cap and the additional equipment being placed in the Gulf will be able to contain up to 80,000 barrels a day, which should allow us to capture nearly all the oil until the well is killed.

I’m staying in touch each and every day monitoring the progress and getting briefed by the scientists.

The key here right now is for us to make decisions based on science, based on what’s best for the people in the Gulf; not based on P.R., not based on politics.

Well, he certainly hasn’t been making a lot of decisions based on PR, judging by HOW BAD HIS PR HAS BEEN on this. He was criticized so extensively for inattention to the crisis that last month he launched a two week publicity blitz during which he went to the region twice and he was basically all spill, all the time.

With the public now mostly focused on other things, Obama mentioned casually today that he’ll head back to the Gulf Coast probably “sometime in the next several weeks.”

Obama Moves Beyond Petroleum

Been there, done that.

It looks like the White House feels it’s covered its ass enough on the BP mess.

Last week and the one before, in response to an outcry that he’s been AWOL on the mess in the Gulf, Obama was all oil spill, all the time, and seemed to be taking command of the situation in a way most presidential. He even fooled me. But it looks like that was all for show.

Now that people’s brains are mostly off the oil spill, our leader’s is too. No trips scheduled this week to the Gulf. No statements, no meetings, no ass kickings.

Obama eats Gulf seagood
Obama, left, risks his life eating Gulf seafood last week

The White House even had added a daily briefing on the matter to his schedule to go with his regular economic and intel meetings. Not this week.

What had appeared to be real presidential involvement in a tragedy is beginning to look like mainly a communications strategy.

It’s a president’s job to lead on the issue, to keep the country  and his administration focused on it so the pressure is raised to come up with solutions and clean up the mess in an efficient and aggressive way. Obama seems to be reacting to public opinion instead of leading it.

It makes good sense as a political matter. Don’t talk about the oil spill, get it out of people’s sights and therefore out of their minds, and the criticism that is sinking his popularity will subside.

But it makes a bad oil spill strategy.

The Top Ten Asses Obama Still Needs to Kick

President Obama last week “figured out whose ass to kick” when he met with BP CEO Tony Hayward at the White House. Obama kicked Hayward’s ass, and out popped $20 billion. This ass kicking was such a success that White House Dossier has compiled a list of the top ten owners of other asses Obama should Kick.

1. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, for suggesting the GOP remove Joe Barton from the top Republican spot on the Energy Committee. Why get rid of something that’s working for you?

2. The Salahis, for having no shame, and then continuing to have no shame.

3. Ahmadinejad. Sanctions aren’t working. Maybe an ass kicking will.

4. Osama Bin Laden. If Obama can find his ass, he should kick it.

5. Al Gore for saving the environment but not his marriage.

6. Tiger Woods from sauntering up and down the golf course like nothing ever happened.

7. Gen. David Petraeus for fainting while trying to explain how we’re going to win in Afghanistan.

8. Hamid Karzai for impersonating a chihuahua by repeatedly biting the hand that feeds him.

9. That Malian soccer referee, on behalf of the entire United States. And while he’s at it, the ump who stole that pitcher’s perfect game the other day.

10. Sarah Palin, before she kicks his ass in 2012. The gal’s got the Midas Touch. For now, anyway.

Gibbs Thanks Barton for his Service

The following letter from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs to Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) was just obtained by White House Dossier. Due to its significant news value and excellent use of English grammar, we’ve decided to share it with you immediately.

June 18, 2010

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Dear Joe,

Thank you for your cooperation on the BP issue and your willingness to serve your president. Sorry I had to rough you up so much there in the briefing room, but you understand the drill.

I must admit I’m jealous because I frankly don’t think I could have written the statement better myself. Your use of the word “shakedown” to describe the $20 billion we forced BP to cough up was pitch perfect. And we all fell out of our chairs giggling here in the White House press office when we heard you actually apologizing to BP in public -TWICE! The president did not watch the hearing but he laughed uproariously when we told him about. I don’t think we’ve seen him so happy since the health bill passed.

Of course, now is the time for discretion. We don’t want anyone to find out that you are a Democratic plant. Nevertheless, I want you to start preparing for your next assignment, which will be to tell Wall Street bankers how sorry you feel for them. We will wait a reasonable amount of time, but as the financial reform bill moves along toward a final vote later this summer, we will need you to drop another stink bomb.

You write it yourself – I mean, you’re just too good – but here are some suggestions.

“Stockbrokers are the Salt of the Earth.”

“Many of these Bank CEOs whose salaries you’re trying to cut,  Mr. President, have had to take out second mortgages just to pay for their swimming pools.”

“The soul of the Republican Party resides on Wall Street.”

“The bankers were just doing their job. I think I speak for all Republicans when I say, the idiots who took those subprime mortgages should have known better.”

“Derivatives then, derivatives now, derivatives forever!”

Just a few ideas. Use ’em or write your own.

Again, thank you for your assistance with the BP matter. BTW, at the briefing today I’m going to call for you to be drawn and quartered while having hydrochloric acid spilled into your navel. Just so you’re aware. Of course, I’d rather be throwing a State Dinner in your honor!

Take care and thanks again.


Gibbs Suggests Barton Should Resign Post

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Thursday sought to ratchet up the pressure on Republicans and further highlight potentially politically damaging statements by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) by suggesting that Barton should resign as ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. From today’s briefing.

GIBBS: I think Republicans are going to have to ask themselves whether Congressman Barton should be the ranking member of a committee that’s doing what it’s doing today, given the fact that he believes we owe an apology to BP, rather than BP owing an apology to the Gulf.

QUESTION: Are you asking  him to resign?

GIBBS: Well.

QUESTION: Or step down?

GIBBS: I will let Republicans make that decision.

Barton has started doing damage control, retracting his apology to BP and apologizing himself for using the word “shakedown.”

At a committee hearing earlier today, Barton accused the White House of performing a “shakedown” of BP by getting the company to agree to set up a $20 billion fund to compensate people damaged by the oil spill. Barton “apologized” to BP officials who were testifying at the hearing.

Speaking along with Gibbs during an unusual appearance in the White House briefing room, Vice President Biden called Barton’s remarks “outrageous” and “astounding” saying, “I find it incredibly insensitive, incredibly out of touch.”

Republicans are not happy with Barton for offering a sympathetic voice to the popularly reviled BP. But it will be interesting to see if they bow to Democrats’ pressure for Barton to leave his post.

Gibbs Rams Barton for ‘Shakedown’ Apology

The White House today pounced on what it clearly sees as a nice and wide political opening, blasting Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), the powerful ranking member of the House Energy panel, for apologizing to testifying BP executives for what he called a “shakedown” of the company. White House Press Secretary Gibbs put the pressure squarely… Continue Reading

BP Chairman: “We Care About the Small People”

BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg announced at the White House today that BP cares about “the small people” harmed by his company’s oil spill, contradicting widespread assumptions that the company was looking to screw them. Svanberg, who emerged just moments ago from a meeting with President Obama and other top White House officials, said he sensed… Continue Reading

Obama Still Meeting With BP Execs

What was supposed to be a 20 minute meeting between President Obama and the top brass at BP has now gone on for more than three hours. No word on what they are talking about yet. Journalists waiting for the BP officials to appear at the White House mikes appear ready to collapse. They’ve been… Continue Reading