The Economist, perhaps defending their countrymates (not counting Iran’s %…) likens BHO to Putin.
For several reasons. The vitriol has a xenophobic edge: witness the venomous references to “British Petroleum”, a name BP dropped in 1998 (just as well that it dispensed with the name Anglo-Iranian Oil Company even longer ago). Vilifying BP also gets in the way of identifying other culprits, one of which is the government. BP operates in one of the most regulated industries on earth with some of the most perverse rules, subsidies and incentives. Shoddy oversight clearly contributed to the spill, and an energy policy which reduced the demand for oil would do more to avert future environmental horrors than fierce retribution.
Mr Obama is not the socialist the right claims he is (see article). He went out of his way, meeting BP executives on June 16th, to insist that he has no interest in undermining the company’s financial stability. But his reaction is cementing business leaders’ impression that he is indifferent to their concerns. If he sees any impropriety in politicians ordering executives about, upstaging the courts and threatening confiscation, he has not said so. The collapse in BP’s share price suggests that he has convinced the markets that he is an American version of Vladimir Putin, willing to harry firms into doing his bidding.
Nobody should underestimate the scale of BP’s mistake, nor the damage that it has caused. But if the president does not stand up for due process, he will frighten investors across the board. The damage to America’s environment is bad enough. The president risks damaging its economy too.
Michael Barone chips in with “at least Putin is an effective thug.”
This was blatant dishonesty by the administration, on an Orwellian scale. In defense of a policy that has all the earmarks of mindless panic, that penalizes firms and individuals guilty of no wrongdoing and that will worsen rather than improve our energy situation. Ineffective thuggery.
And what about the decision not to waive the Jones Act, which bars foreign-flag vessels from coming to the aid of the Gulf cleanup? The Bush administration promptly waived it after Katrina in 2005. The Obama administration hasn’t and claims unconvincingly that, gee, there aren’t really any foreign vessels that could help.
The more plausible explanation is that this is a sop to the maritime unions, part of the union movement that gave Obama and other Democrats $400 million in the 2008 campaign cycle. It’s the Chicago way: Dance with the girl that brung ya.
Robert J. Samuelson, writing in the WaPo, adds:
Obama has made vilification of oil and the oil industry a rhetorical mainstay. This is intellectually shallow, if politically understandable. “Clean energy” won’t displace oil or achieve huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions …Barring major technological advances (say, low-cost “carbon capture” to pump CO2 into the ground) or an implausibly massive shift to nuclear power, this simply won’t happen. It’s a pipe dream. In the EIA’s “reference case” projection, CO2 emissions in 2035 are 8.7 percent higher than in 2008.