So, I return from my cross country trip and amidst the myriad things to do to mark my return, I scan my e-mail to touch base with my friends and Memeorandum to see what’s making news in the internets. And even though the oil leak in the Gulf has not yet been fixed, Democrats are still casting about blaming Republicans, one Republican in particular, the rest by association since, you know, they all have that pesky little (R) after their names.
Now, I’m not going to weigh in on what Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) said about BP. On the face of it, it sounds pretty bad, but I haven’t studied the remarks in context and they are not the point of my post. (That said, at least one person said he was speaking the truth.)
Barton may represent Texas’ Sixth Congressional District in the House of Representatives, but he holds no executive authority. So, he can blather on all he want and his words won’t cause the oil to leak or to prevent the leak from being fixed or the oil from spreading. Yet, to deflect attention from the failure of the president to devote his full attention to solving the problem, his party elders are blaming Barton.
According to the Hill, “Democrats are trying to explicitly tie the 114-member Republican Study Committee (RSC) to a top Republican’s apology to BP this week for the government’s actions to compel BP to create the $20 billion fund to pay out claims to victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.” Meanwhile, “White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel promised Sunday that President Barack Obama hopes to make sure that voters don’t forget the gaffe anytime soon.” Guess he’d rather voters forget his boss’s inept response.
According to Jake Tapper, “Emanuel asserted that Rep. Joe Barton’s apology to BP was a political gift for Democrats – one the President will use in coming weeks to contrast his governing vision with Republicans, with Barton as a foil.” Yup, to Obama Democrats, it’s all about politics, how to play the issue. But, the campaign is over. Obama is president. A governing vision is one thing, but people can now see what that vision means in practice. (Seems the Obama teams wants people to look the other way.) Perhaps, on paper, Obama has a better governing vision than Barton, but that Republican’s not running for president.
And this Democrat should be defending his record, well, now at least, building a record he can defend. Guess it’s easier attacking one Republican’s gaffe than defending a Democratic president’s record.
As is often the case, Jim Geraghty sums it up:
Never fear, conservatives. No matter how strongly the wind is at our backs, there will always be some member of the GOP who will be blindingly foolish enough to demonstrate the exact opposite political instincts that are required by the moment, who will make their misstep on the largest stage possible, and make their gaffe the dominant storyline, instead of the latest appalling failure of liberal policy.
The Gulf oil crisis had managed to shine a bright spotlight on a phenomenon that many of us noticed about three years ago — that Barack Obama can talk a good game but rarely if ever has demonstrated an ability to actually solve problems. The phenomenon had gotten so glaring and obvious that when Captain Kickass turned in his latest edition of the same flowery, detail-free “yes we can” he’s been using since the 2004 Democratic convention, the very last of the rear guard — Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, Eugene Robinson, and Maureen Dowd — had to give up the fight and acknowledge that their guy was turning into an epic disappointment.
And then along came Joe Barton, Republican of Texas, ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, to declare: “I’m ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case, a $20 billion shakedown.” We’ve got eleven oilmen killed; enough pathetic, struggling pelicans to make those Sarah McLachlan ASPCA ads look like a laugh riot; shrimpers and entire industries put out of work; and beaches that look like the inside of your car engine. Barton identifies the “tragedy of the first proportion” as the company responsible having to shell out a lot.
(From Friday’s Morning Jolt, a portion excerpted here.)
Seems the Obama team is looking for a way to spread the blame.