What is it that everyone expects Obama to do?

In the midst of the entire political universe, Republican and Democrat, dumping on Obama for not doing enough about the Gulf oil spill, this comment at Lucianne.com expresses more or less my own reaction:

Reply 22 - Posted by: Sfacheem, 5/28/2010 7:45:43 AM

I for one, an Obama “hater” and rock-ribbed conservative, cannot figure out exactly what it is everyone wants the president of the United States to do about this. It seems to me that if the private sector company that drilled the well and assembled the rig, and the U.S. federal department that oversees oil rigs can’t figure out what to do, how does one expect the president to know what to do? Are we that shallow in 2010 America that we “need” to see that he “cares” by watching him roam around the oil-slicked beaches in a pair of rubber boots with a tear streaming down his cheek?

The infantile mind set of blaming the president of the U.S. for everything gone wrong in the world is for liberals. We should be above the practice.

- end of initial entry -

Karl D. writes:

I agree with the commenter 100 percent. I always found hyper-partisanism (think Sean Hannity) and liberal inspired illogical criticism to be juvenile and unhelpful. Short of the president strapping himself into a submersible vehicle and making a suicide run at the spill like Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, what is he supposed to do? Oh I forgot. Like Bush with Katrina he should whip himself until he is bloody via live satellite. This president as Ubermensch is for the birds.

Jeff W. writes:

I do not claim to know anything about capping deep-sea oil blowouts, but I still have some ideas on what Obama should do.

First divide the problem into three parts: capping the blowout, containing the oil, cleaning up the mess. BP is appropriately in charge of capping the blowout, but other experts should be working on alternative plans for capping the well that can be implemented if BP fails. Obama should recruit and supervise that backup team of experts.

Another group should be implementing any and all reasonable plans to contain the oil within as small an area as possible. Gov. Jindal’s plans to dredge barrier berms is one such containment plan, but there are probably others that can work. Several containment projects should be moving simultaneously. BP does not need to supervise these. Obama is the appropriate executive for containment efforts.

Then there is the cleanup operation. Obama should be taking the lead on this. Some cleanup work is happening now, but cleanup will clearly be a massive effort and should be coordinated by the Feds.

So let BP continue to work on Top Kill, etc., while Obama works on containment and cleanup. That arrangement seems obvious to me.

Brent L. writes:

I find all the hand-wringing over Obama’s apparent inability to “do something” about the oil spill more than a little ironic.

Based on his entire career, both in and out of the public sector, what experience does he have that would make ANYONE—not the least of all those who supported his election so enthusiastically—think that he was capable of dealing with a problem of this magnitude?

From my perspective, he has done EXACTLY what he was elected to do: make impassioned speeches and give the impression that he knows what he is doing and will get results. The only problem is, of course, that creating the perception of competence is not, in fact, evidence of actual competence.

Since I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and the possibility of a major economic and environmental disaster directly affecting me and my family is very real, I should be incensed by this administration’s Katrina-like response. But I’m not, because I realized early on that the Federal government has devolved into a Soviet-style bureaucratic morass of dysfunction, and as such cannot even decide what steps to take to address the situation, much less actually take them.

When anyone (particularly my “progressive” friends) starts to complain about Obama’s failure to deal with the crisis, I tell them, “Give the poor guy a break—he’s doing the very best he can.” Which, unfortunately, is woefully inadequate.

Paul Nachman writes:

I’ve been in the same camp as the Lucianne commenter you quote:

The infantile mind set of blaming the president of the U.S. for everything gone wrong in the world is for liberals. We should be above the practice.

This is all part of the subject covered by Gene Healy in his book The Cult of the Presidency and essay of the same title (which you can find online).

So Wonderboy doesn’t deserve much blame on this oil disaster, but I’m perfectly pleased to have him put through the wringer for it (if that happens) to make up for all the other subjects for which he deserves excoriation or worse but has been given a pass.

But as part of the national conversation, it’s bad. I had the same reaction recently when I heard that “Reagan created 23 million jobs,” a ridiculous statement. It’s still ridiculous if you say that Reagan created conditions that led to the creation of 23 million jobs. The president can’t have that much effect. If any one person deserves credit or blame for big economic movements, it’s probably the head of the Federal Reserve. That was Paul Volcker during the early Reagan years.

Our mania about the presidency is a large and enduring subject, probably with origins during FDR’s reign. It is a bad reflection on America’s average citizen that his involvement in public policy is generally limited to paying attention to presidential campaigns—and occasionally making his opinions known if his particular ox is threatened with goring.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 28, 2010 08:32 AM | Send

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