The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is slowly shaping up to be one of the worst environmental disasters in American history, as well as something of a political disaster for President Obama.
Since April 20, hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil have been released into the Gulf, with little response from the federal government until recently. British Petroleum has been leading the cleanup efforts and attempting to halt the seepage of oil from the bottom of the ocean, but recently revealed that they are unable to complete the task themselves.
As calls for the government to respond to the disaster have grown, President Obama announced today that he would be touring the Gulf Coast region within the next two days.
The New York Times today took aim at the administration’s response to the spill:
“The federal government also had opportunities to move more quickly, but did not do so while it waited for a resolution to the spreading spill from BP. The Department of Homeland Security waited until Thursday to declare that the incident was “a spill of national significance,” and then set up a second command center in Mobile, Ala. The actions came only after the estimate of the size of the spill was increased fivefold to 5,000 barrels a day. The delay meant that the Homeland Security Department waited until late this week to formally request a more robust response from the Department of Defense, with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano acknowledging even as late as Thursday afternoon that she did not know if the Defense Department even had equipment that might be helpful.”
The Washington Times took a more direct shot at President Obama and the peril that he faces:
“The rapidly expanding environmental catastrophe caused by the oil spill off the coast of Louisiana is presenting a growing political challenge to the Obama White House, with Mr. Obama and his aides at pains to defend the response and forestall comparisons to the Hurricane Katrina crisis.”
“Failure to get control of the relief effort and contain the environmental challenge could pose the same kind of political threat to Mr. Obama’s popular standing that the much-criticized handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina did for former President George W. Bush. And unlike Katrina, it is likely the federal government will be the clear lead authority in dealing with the BP spill.”
Even liberal stalwarts, like Bill Maher, are unhappy with President Obama’s handling of the oil spill:
“Okay, so I mentioned in the monologue I’m a little mad this week,” Maher began after introducing his guests.
“I’m mad at the oil company who didn’t obviously build their rig well enough,” he continued. “I’m mad at America in general because we should have gotten off the oil tit starting in the ’70s.”
Hold on to you seats: “But I’ll tell you who I’m really mad at which is Barack Obama…So, why isn’t Barack Obama getting more s–t for this?”
Remarkably, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the situation was nothing out of the ordinary:
“I think that given the serious nature of the problems that we face as a country, you could say that about any event on any day,” Mr. Gibbs said in an interview, responding to suggestions that the president’s attendance at the correspondents dinner might look unseemly while an environmental calamity was under way.
WATCH MAHER TAKE ON OBAMA