Doom has arrived on our shores and our prospects are tacky with tar balls.
The geyser of crude, a mile down in the Gulf of Mexico, exposed America for what it is: bent over a barrel of oil.
The party that defiantly and happily chanted “drill, baby, drill” at their 2008 convention has been content to obsess about the Joe Sestak job offer story in lieu of drilling, baby, drilling. Why aren’t they defending their bumper sticker? With glee they’ve been chasing the hope something illegal happened in the White House so they can pounce on possible political gain in the middle of a the potential loss of our Southern shoreline to sludge.
Republicans, with their 30-year menagerie of sound bites railing against government interference with business, have not surprisingly stayed away from direct action on this front. Except for Governor Bobby Jindal, who now publicly wants federal help instead of shaking his fist against the stimulus and then posing in photos handing out those government checks.
That size-of-South-Carolina amorphous blob of crude is the realization of Republican values: no regulations for drilling our way out of an energy crisis. It’s the rainbow connection!
Then the new darling of the right-wing, Rand Paul “shrugged” and said accidents happen and criticized President Obama for being “un-American” for coming down too harshly on BP. Then the old darling of the right-wing, Sarah Palin, whose husband worked for BP for 18 years, didn’t recuse herself from discussing the issue as a paid Fox News contributor because of a potential conflict of interest. Instead she accused Obama of being the one in bed with the oil companies. Which is so ridiculous it’s like Sarah Palin being the person to accuse Obama of being in bed with the oil companies.
Overnight, on Day 39, cable news put up neon graphics that it’s Day 39! Now the press is paying attention. CNN ran stories about how this spill is going to hurt BP’s image as a green company. Because this spill is a PR issue like terminal cancer is a problem with morale.
Suddenly 25 times more oil is coming out of the blown well than BP initially reported. Suddenly the press needs someone to blame. BP, Transocean and Halliburton get passed up for the government response. There is no response that would have saved the Gulf. But context doesn’t matter. We need a bullhorn moment to broadcast. That’s Obama’s failing: no bullhorn. Bush’s bullhorn was…well bull (Osama Bin Laden will die of old age). But we need to see the leader of the free world not being thoughtful – we need action. We need Obama to clean off some tar-covered birds! Why isn’t he in a flight suit err wetsuit!? He’s clearly not doing enough!
The oil companies in this snapshot are in arrested development. In the 1930s some estimated we’d run out of oil in 10 years. Yet here we are. They’ve innovated to find more oil and effectively kept innovation from making them obsolete. It’s a marvel of modern lobbying, marketing and engineering. But are we out on the streets protesting them? No, we’re having a Tea Party about government tyranny.
The BP spill exposed that we’re still commuting in eight-cylinder singly occupied vehicles, hopped up on plastic goods and scoffing at high-speed rail projects. Our government is representative – we haven’t clamored to get off oil. If anything we’ve threatened to riot for having to pay too much at the pump. Because of our myopic need to not alter our way of life – the Deepwater Horizon has altered our way of life. There’s a state-sized slurry of death floating around in the ocean and it’s just the price of doing business.
Calls for more drilling in the wake of the BP Oil Spill are as sound as a junkie shooting up into an abscess.
Louisiana Congressman Charlie Melancon said that these are not just Louisiana’s wetlands but America’s wetlands. And I would add that it’s not just endangered pelicans covered in debilitating oil – we all are covered in debilitating oil.