I don't think you could call me a reflexive supporter of Obama. I've criticized him often enough. So bear this in mind when I say that much of the recent Gulf-centered criticism--from Democrats and Democratic sympathizers as well as from the usual quarters--strikes me as not just unfair but ridiculous. My new column for the FT explains.
The criticism of Mr Obama's handling of the oil spill has been especially and flamboyantly unreasonable. So far as capping the leak is concerned, the relevant expertise resides with BP and the other oil companies. The notion that they should be "pushed aside" is risible. In any case, of course, the administration is in charge - overseeing the operation, as opposed to directing it in detail, which is as it should be. A deepwater drilling moratorium is in place and a thoroughgoing review of the regulatory regime is under way. The White House has been active in mobilizing resources to contain damage to the coastline.
Could more be done? Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal deplores the delay in building sand barriers to act as an extra line of defense - but there are differences of opinion about the utility of that approach, which even advocates admit will take months to execute. Good-faith disputes over priorities and what is feasible cannot support accusations of negligence or indolence.
So far, at least, the US public seems to be demonstrating more patience and maturity than their op-ed writers. We will have to see whether that lasts.
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