Thursday, May 27, 2010

Obama's Katrina?

President Obama will make his second visit to the Gulf of Mexico tomorrow, stressing the urgency of the situation and addressing his administration’s concern for the massive oil spill. Many Republicans, however, are trying to link President Obama's handling of the BP oil spill to President Bush's flawed response in 2005 to Hurricane Katrina. This is a flawed view for many reasons.

First and foremost, Katrina was a storm that you track for several weeks. After swiftly coming ashore, more than 1,800 people were killed, and thousands more left without food or shelter. It is impossible to challenge President Bush’s slow response, as so many of us witnessed the catastrophe firsthand: the entire city was left to fend for itself, abandoned by the government, as people were left at the New Orleans convention center for days with no water or food. Many can remember watching television to see people stuck on their rooftops crying out for help. That is called a slow response and any comparisons to President Obama’s reaction to the BP oil spill are not only immature, but uneducated.

In the case of what is happening in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama responded hastily from day one. As the news of the crisis poured through the media, the Coast Guard and the Navy were on site immediately after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig from which the oil spill began. Obama also took it upon his duties to order a moratorium on new offshore drilling leases and dispatched cabinet secretaries and cargo planes to the region.

Even Fox News Anchor Bill O’Reilly said, on the May 5th edition of Good Morning America, that even if Obama acted quicker, “they can’t even cap it now. What else could he have done, be put in a dive suit?” Strangely enough, I agree.

Second, to say Obama’s response to the oil spill is intentionally slow due to BP’s previous donations to his presidential campaign in 2008 is irresponsible. Not only has he responded quickly, but he has made it his administration’s top priority. The government is not sitting idly while leaving BP to clean up the mess it created in the first place, but instead, has ensured that any and all actions taken by the oil company must be first approved by the federal government. So although BP is at fault and may be taking steps to clean up the mess, their efforts are all coordinated and managed by Obama and his administration.

Third, I'm almost sure that the oil companies don't consider the Obama administration a huge ally. Through his repeated calls for cleaner energy, cap-and-trade policies, and decreased reliance on oil, the president has made clear that he has not become cozy with his campaign donors. Remember when he proposed a windfall profits tax for oil companies who jack up their oil prices to charge more for gasoline? There is also proof when examining his calls for greater financial regulation, despite the fact that his campaign received large donations from Wall Street firms.

Republicans have been criticizing the president for not dealing with the spill efficiently. Yet, it has long been the GOP mantra to “drill baby drill”. Seems very hypocritical if you ask me.

To the critics, please stop trying to criticize every action taken by our president to help fix this nation from the misery and pain caused from the last eight years. Instead, try offering real solutions and put the American people first, not politics.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Partisanship At Its Best

Today, President Obama joined Senate Republicans in a closed door meeting on Capitol Hill, the latest attempt by the President to reach across the table in hopes of bipartisanship.

Although there was, and will continue to be a many differences in opinions on various issues, the fact of the matter is that a productive piece of legislation does not pass until it is well understood by both parties and significant effort has been made to make it a cooperative effort. Obama understands this, and therefore, has made attempts to seek his opponents’ advice.

However, there are many GOP leaders who continue to “stick to their guns” and focus on petty politics. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, for example, accused the president during the meeting of taking an excessively partisan approach to critical issues such as financial reform, and then having the "audacity" to come to the Senate GOP conference and use the Republicans as election year "props."

This serves as a problem for several reasons. First, Obama is a Democrat and therefore will hold liberal views on many issues, same as President Bush held many conservative views on many issues, and almost every other political leader to date. What makes the difference, however, is how that person tries to overcome that disparity in opinions to try and reach a conclusive decision. With Obama setting up such meetings, it serves as proof that he is, at the least, trying to understand the others’ point of view, instead of blindly holding his ground.

Second, what exactly does it mean to be “excessively partisan”? Would the “You lie” outburst from Rep. Joe Wilson, R-South Carolina, at President Obama during his speech to Congress be considered “excessively partisan”? Would the incident when Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, shouted “baby killer” at Democrat Bart Stupak in his debate on the House floor be considered “excessively partisan”? Or how about when Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, and other GOP leaders compare the President to Adolf Hitler? Or when numerous Republican Senators, including Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told people that they were correct to fear that the government would "pull the plug on grandma with the death panels”? By the way, how’s that working out since the passage of Obama’s healthcare bill?

Wouldn’t all those statements be considered “excessively partisan”? I guess not. I guess having a valid difference in opinion in the Republican Party either makes you a liar, a baby killer, or Hitler.

If that’s the case, I prefer to stay excessively partisan.