Tonight Barack Obama will be addressing the nation from the Oval Office, his first such address. Typically, addresses of this sort are done in times of emergency or catastrophe. One thinks of Reagan’s touching address to the nation after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger.
What this means is that the President has decided that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is of sufficient importance to merit an address to the nation of this kind.
He’s right about that. Late to the party, but right.
My concern, unfounded at this point, is that Obama will revert to type and use the address as a way of polishing his own now tarnished reputation. I’m sure he will impart information about the Federal Government’s efforts in the Gulf, but if history is a guide the speech will more than likely be little more than an attempt to 1) sound tough and in command; 2) try to reverse his increasing negative ratings; 3) blame the Bush administration; and 4) advance a policy agenda, most likely Cap and Trade.
This calamity in the Gulf is not a political issue, but the President is the most intensely political person to ever hold the keys to the White House. He seems genuinely incapable of seeing that an environmental catastrophe of this sort transcends party lines, or he would not even be thinking along these lines:
“I think it’s fair to say, if six months ago, before this spill had happened, I had gone up to Congress and I had said we need to crack down a lot harder on oil companies and we need to spend more money on technology to respond in case of a catastrophic spill, there are folks up there, who will not be named, who would have said this is classic, big-government overregulation and wasteful spending.”
It’s a ridiculous comment on a lot of levels (Dan Riehl has some here), but the most important level is that in a time of national emergency Barack Obama has managed to casually and egregiously insult the opposition party for no reason other than that’s just the way he rolls. The oil spill presented Obama with an opening to slap the Republicans, and he seized that opportunity. The fact that the Republicans had nothing to do with this is beside the point. This gem of Progressive thinking from Rahm Emanuel immediately leaps to mind:
“You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.”
The important thing for Obama in the current crisis is not gratuitously insulting Republicans. That’s just a bonus. The important thing for Obama is getting his Cap and Trade energy policy passed. I’m betting that Obama, partisan hack that he is, will not be able to get through his speech tonight without reminding us that we need some type of comprehensive energy policy, that we need to move beyond fossil fuels, that we need to pass Cap and Trade. Of course, Cap and Trade doesn’t really have anything to do with oil, and while a world that doesn’t rely on fossil fuels may (or may not) be desirable it’s not going to happen any time soon. But that is irrelevant. There is a crisis in the Gulf now, and Obama has let it go to waste for nearly 60 days now.
That will likely change tonight.