Of course, when you're a candidate, all you have is talk and storytelling. You can't actually do anything yet. But now that he's actually in office, Obama is all do and not enough talk. In doing so, the president is not only failing a critical aspect of his job, he has blown a fantastic opportunity to sell the American people on the entire remainder of his reform agenda.
Yes, I know, you can search the White House website and find instances all over where the president discusses the government's spill response. But there's nothing there really to distinguish Obama's talk about the spill crisis from any other issue on the site. And, no, I'm not suggesting that somehow Obama should have opened up a Cajun White House and moved down to Louisiana for the duration. What I am saying is that the president and his staff should have taken a step back and thought about the narrative and, yes, the stagecraft of their response. They should have been more pro-active, and worked to appear more out in front of the whole thing.
Franklin Roosevelt's fireside chats, by themselves, never put anyone to work, or helped in the war. They were just talk. But it was talk that helped the president bond to the American people. That bond served FDR well later, when he had to get some controversial program past his Republican opponents. There's ample evidence with the current oil crisis that the American people are still hungry for such a bond.
How The American People Feel
A recent USA Today/Gallup poll found 47 percent of Americans are following news of the spill "very closely," so Obama clearly would get their attention. Kentucky Republican Rand Paul attacked Obama's criticism of BP over the spill as "un-American," and most polls indicate that the American people discredit Paul's attack as bunk. If you look at the polls, Obama generally is seen as more favorable than BP. And when Obama is seen unfavorably, it's because Americans want to see the president as more active, not less. That's the bigger opportunity that Obama has wasted here by not getting out in front of the disaster.