In the political world, apparently, we have a name for the huge oil spill occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. While one would think a name like "The Big BP Oil Spill" would be the most apropos, the news outlets seem to think "Obama's Katrina" is best.
No matter what channel or news outlet you watch – Fox News, CNN, CNBC, CBS – political analysts and TV talk show hosts are calling the environmental disaster "Obama's Katrina" in an effort to compare the current government's supposedly slow reaction to the oil spill to President Bush's sluggish response to help those in need in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
In a show dedicated to "drawing similarities" between Bush's handling of the flooding in New Orleans to Obama's response to the current toxic spew, CNBC host Larry Kudlow basically said they both sat idly by. "He hasn't done a thing. The White House, the administration, hasn't done a thing to defend the shoreline from the spill," he shouted on his morning CNBC show. "They've basically let five weeks go by, have they not? Isn't that the breakdown in the Obama argument?" It is human nature to always compare and contrast political leadership, especially when it comes to the White House, but these two situations are anything but equal. Like Kudlow, one can certainly argue that both presidents did drag their feet when it came to their respective southern catastrophes, but it's like comparing apples to oranges.
First of all, let's not forget this huge environmental disaster is due to what we all thought was a simple and easy-to-remedy plumbing problem. This oil spill has now surpassed the Exxon Valdez spill by millions of gallons and has become the biggest in US history (and still growing at a rate of 25,000 per day), but, again, it's because of a simple broken pipe, which basically means of course, that the government's reaction was lackadaisical and apathetic. If any one of us were sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office and our advisors came in to tell us that there was an explosion on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico and a broken pipe was causing oil to spew into the water, we'd all react the exact same way. It wouldn't be immediately to mobilize all our resources, troops, environmental scientists, Coast Guard, money, and send it all to the region to help stop the discharge and protect the shores, especially not in this economy. It would be to call the company that owns the oil rig, the same company that tragically lost 11 workers in the explosion that started the toxic flow in the first place, to offer condolences and make sure the leak was being contained.
That's exactly what happened. Nobody, not the government, not the public, not even BP, ever thought it would be so hard to stop the noxious contaminant from gushing out. After all, in this day and age of technology, with new advancements in chemicals, substances, glues, adhesives, etc., one would think a broken pipe could be fixed relatively quickly. Because of that, it was common sense simply to let BP remedy the dilemma, which, again, is what the government did. Then, as it dawned on everybody that there were no easy solutions, efforts and forces were mobilized. Unfortunately, for all parties, especially the environment, the simple plumbing problem is 5,000-plus feet below water and proving to be nearly impossible to rectify.
Hurricane Katrina, on the other hand, was caused by Mother Nature. Not by an individual or company, who had primary responsibility to handle any and all relief and cleanup efforts. Once the flooding occurred throughout New Orleans, it was the state and federal government's responsibility to get in there and deal with the disaster. There was no other private entity to work with or wrangle with to ensure all was promptly being taken care of. Thus, politcally or otherwise, you cannot compare a response to a natural disaster to a human-caused accident.
If it weren't such an environmental tragedy, it would almost be laughable how hard it's been for the greatest minds of humanity to find a solution to such a simple plumbing problem. Of course, we'll look back at this and say we should have done this, we could have done that, but when it comes to hindsight, we're all Einsteins.
Bottom line is "The Big BP Oil Spill" is no "Obama's Katrina," it's an unfortunate environmental catastrophe. One that needs to come to an end now.