Rep. Joe Barton's fellow Republicans quickly denounced his apology to BP, forcing Barton to retract the controversial statement, but the political damage has been done. Democrats, eager to move climate change legislation and to demonstrate action against BP and the Gulf oil spill, have seized on Barton's bizarre apology. Here are the political repercussions.
- Reveals Ideological Problem for GOP on Oil Spill The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty explains, "To some Republicans, their defense of the oil industry has more to do with their belief in free enterprise and their wariness of regulation. The debate over drilling has been a core part of their argument for less government. This may not be the best moment to be making that argument, either."
- Dems Have Their 'Republican Villain' Politico's Jonathan Allen and Jake Sherman write, "In the blink of an eye, Texas Rep. Joe Barton handed Democrats just what they wanted: a Republican villain in the oil spill crisis. ... It would have been bad enough for the GOP if a backbencher had accidentally strayed wildly off message, but Barton, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is the face of the party on energy policy — and his comments were intentional. So rather than talking about BP’s culpability and the Obama administration’s response, Washington was fixated on a Texas Republican’s seemingly tone-deaf comments."
- Dems Paint All Republicans With Barton Brush The Atlantic's Chris Good writes, "Democrats have pounced, and they will continue to pounce. Before Barton offered his apology to Hayward, Republicans were already fighting off a Democratic message machine eager to paint them as oil-company friendly and skeptical of full BP liability. Boehner, for his part, has faced some confusion over his stance on BP liability. That's partly why Barton's apology was so toxic."
- Putting Oil Spill Blame on GOP The Washington Post's Aaron Blake and Paul Kane write, "Almost immediately following Barton's morning comments, the liberal blogs and Democratic campaign operatives sprang into action and the White House denounced Barton. Even before Barton's comments, Democrats had been attempting to connect Republicans to BP, noting the many contributions GOP congressmen have received from it and other oil companies. ... Republicans hoping to pin the problems of the Gulf Coast on Obama were immediately put on the defensive."
- Dems Fundraising on Barton's Apology Time's Chris Gentilviso reports, "A host of both Republicans and Democrats didn't like Barton's apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward. Now Democratic fundraisers have turned to Facebook, ready to cash in on the outrage. If you've been on Facebook over the past 24 hours (who hasn't?), you might have noticed Barton's face to the right of your profile page. MSNBC reports that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is responsible for the Joe Barton-themed ads, which were expected to reel in 20 million page views yesterday alone.