James Joyner counters:
The problem with all this is that, while being “tough” and “kicking ass” and “twisting arms” may well be politically popular, especially when the target is so unpopular, it’s well beyond the legitimate power of the presidency. ...BP is being forced to assume liabilities to which it is almost certainly not legally obligated and doing so outside the judicial process by which such things are supposed to be decided. Presidents have enormous power, though, because they can threaten to harm a company’s business.
Please. Jawboning is not unconstitutional. BP has a choice, and could have refused to make this offer, and I see no broader threat to their business - just to the way they have done business. And the way they have done business has been sickening. Here, in a nutshell is what has gone wrong with corporate America:
In response to a U.S. senator’s questions in a letter, BP said it never follows a federal law requiring it to certify that a blowout preventer device would be able to block a well in case of an emergency. The inquiry stemmed from a hearing in May into the Gulf oil spill from the explosion and fire which sank the Deepwater Horizon rig.
But, at the same time, the British oil giant blamed the federal oversight agency, Minerals Management Service, for not asking it to comply with the law.
So: a citizen with full knowledge of the law need only obey it if the regulator specifically asks. If they don't, the citizen is blameless. Really? Now, I'm not excusing the MMS here. What I'm noting is the absence of any core civic responsibility by BP.