This editorial appears in today’s print edition.
So federal Judge Martin Feldman has overturned Barack Obama’s six-month moratorium on deepwater oil-drilling because it’s probably “arbitrary and capricious.” What does the good judge want – Spock-like logic at a time like this?
Pity the president. His job is to be In Charge, or at least look like it. But nothing except wild geologic pressure is in charge of the petroleum blasting out of that snakebit BP wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. That leaves the people who are supposedly running the show posturing like opera stars, doing everything possible to redirect public anger at someone else, anyone else.
Obama’s moratorium wouldn’t do a thing about the BP leak, needless to say, and it lumps the safest oil operations in with the riskiest, but it had a presidential feel to it that was kind of comforting.
The president’s other options amount to: touring the Gulf coast and showing sympathy for the spill’s victims; flying back to the Gulf coast and showing some more sympathy for them; standing in front of a camera and sounding angry at BP; standing in front of a camera and sounding really angry at BP. That’s not a big hand of cards; meanwhile the estimates of bubbling crude double or triple by the week.
Obama’s initial response to the April 20 disaster was characteristic of his cool-headed, professorial temperament, and the Americans who talk to pollsters didn’t like that, not at all. So the president had to dredge up some anger.
Since Obama doesn’t really do anger, he keeps fumbling his lines. His “whose ass to kick” performance on NBC’s Today Show was widely regarded as over the top. His lackluster prime time speech last week was under the bottom.
His predicament is reminiscent of Ben Stiller’s superhero character, Mr. Furious, in the comedy “Mystery Men.” Faced with bad guys, Mr. Furious’ superpower was to get mad, or madder, or even madder. Mr. Furious didn’t really do anything; he just got mad. Obama can’t do anything about that plume of oil, but he can get mad – or at least give it a good try.
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