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Belmont Club

The Gulf

June 15th, 2010 - 6:57 pm

The Washington Post reports that President Obama has named a lawyer to supervise oil drilling. “President Obama has selected Michael Bromwich, a partner in the law firm Fried Frank’s Washington D.C. and New York offices, to head the Minerals Management Service, the troubled agency that oversees offshore oil drilling, according to senior administration officials.” Bromwich has no experience in supervising oil drilling, like his predecessor Elizabeth Birnbaum, who was chosen “to head the MMS in large part because of her record of environmental and green-energy advocacy.” Ignorance of the complexities of oil drilling is no handicap. “Shortly after Birnbaum was fired, her defenders told the trade publication Environment and Energy Daily that ‘she had not been ordered to clean house at the scandal-stained agency, but to promote renewable energy.’” It’s isn’t that she wasn’t a specialist, she was just wrong kind of specialist.

While Bromwich has no significant experience with oil and gas issues, he has a reputation for cleaning up embattled organizations. In addition to serving as as inspector general for the Justice Department under President Clinton for five years, he worked as the District Metropolitan Police Department’s independent monitor on the issue of excessive force and as the independent investigator for the Houston Police Department’s crime lab. He also served as an associate counsel in the Iran-Contra investigation in the late 1980s.

Though ‘cleaning house’ is not exactly the same as knowing how to fix a leak or supervise oil drilling, it may have to do. But maybe it’s close enough for government work. And the intention is to fix things someday. Fix it so’s we never to drill. And for that we look to Cathay. The President in his speech from the Oval Office said that America was falling behind China in Green Jobs and he was not going to let that happen.

Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash American innovation and seize control of our own destiny.

In that Green paradise Birnbaum may have a future after all, after Bromwich finishes cleaning house. But not everybody believes this grandiose scheme will come to pass because if the current administration can’t plug a hole, or talk to a company about how to plug a hole, then that glittering prospect at overhauling China at Green Jobs may be  beyond it’s competence to attain. Overhauling more than a trillion industrious Chinese will be harder than meeting one BP CEO. And the implication of what the state of the administration’s competence is may be depressing. The most lugubrious site on the Internet after the President’s speech is the comments section of the Huffington Post, because what do you know, not even die-hard liberals are buying it. A few die hard optimists point out that “Yes, BP will lose billions from this oil spill, but they’ll make TRILLIONS when the new Energy Bills passes”. After all, BP helped write it: “McConnell Charges That ‘Major Part’ of Democrats’ Cap-Trade Bill ‘Essentially Written by BP’”. But for many of the other commenters such consolations were inadequate; the truth was painfully obvioius. There’s nobody home. And it’s beginning to dawn on them that maybe there never was anybody home. This means that for next two and half years America will be trailing a slick of blood, like a giant wounded whale, careering across the seas like the ghost ships of yesterday’s legend, bound for nowhere but the horizon.

Law professor Ann Althouse was hard pressed to glean anything from the President’s speech besides the tritest commonplaces: “to make sure this won’t happen again, Obama is establishing a commission.” After that it was all a flight through skies of rhetoric.

We need to “jump start” the “clean energy” future. There’s “the potential” to create “millions of jobs” but “only” if we “act together.” We need to do something big at the national level to make this happen. Some people say we can’t afford this, but he’s saying we can’t afford not to do it. He’s vague about what this will be. The only thing he won’t accept is doing nothing. He won’t accept the “paltry limits of conventional wisdom.” So even though we don’t “precisely know” what we need to do, we will do it. Like we did in WWII and in going to the moon. We’ll do something. And it will have to be big, but we don’t know what it is. Then he drops from that scarily high level of abstraction and the unknown to… shrimpers. Something about shrimp people. We must think BIG and… shrimpy.

And suddenly, it’s getting religious. I think he’s bringing this speech in for a landing, because… it’s a bit prayer-like. There’s a “hand” that will “guide us.” And — yes — it is the end: “May God bless America.”

The hand that will guide us. Just make sure the President doesn’t grasp at a claw and maybe it’ll be alright.  But Steven Green felt himself in the presence of such mush that he couldn’t even take a swing at it. “That was mercifully free of content. … There wasn’t even enough meat to make proper fun of. Proper ass-kicking fun. … keep waiting for somebody else to come on TV, maybe a cabinet member, to read the real speech, the one that tells us… I dunno… stuff.”  Just wait for the lawyer, Steven, and he’ll tell you stuff — stuff about cleaning house.

Just how bad things are for the President can be seen from the Matthews – Olberman’s reaction. “I Don’t Sense Executive Command.” And yes, Matthews compared the President to Jimmy Carter. When you’ve lost Tingles, you’ve lost the nation.

Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Howard Fineman react to President Obama’s Oval Office Address on the oil spill. Here are the highlights of what the trio said:

Olbermann: “It was a great speech if you were on another planet for the last 57 days.”

Matthews compared Obama to Carter.

Olbermann: “Nothing specific at all was said.”

Matthews: “No direction.”

Howard Fineman: “He wasn’t specific enough.”

Olbermann: “I don’t think he aimed low, I don’t think he aimed at all. It’s startling.”

Howard Fineman: Obama should be acting like a “commander-in-chief.”

Matthews: Ludicrous that he keeps saying [Secretary of Energy] Chu has a Nobel prize. “I’ll barf if he does it one more time.”

Matthews: “A lot of meritocracy, a lot of blue ribbon talk.”

Matthews: “I don’t sense executive command.”

“I don’t sense executive command.” How about a disturbance in the Force? With a palpable dismay running even through the Left two things are probable. There’ll be trouble in the Democratic Party. There’s an air of putrefaction coming from the administration and nobody wants to be yoked to a corpse. That also means there’ll be opportunists from the right because all of a sudden or fairly soon the administration is going about as unpopular as leprosy in Ben Hur, a condition that will attract RINOs from near and far who figure that since even a department store dummy can run against the Democratic establishment and win it might as well be them. In fact, an unemployed black veteran, Alvin Greene, just did exactly that. The London Times reported how an unemployed veteran who may be facing criminal charges beat “a well-financed, long-established Democratic politician for the party’s nomination for a midterm Senate race — and won … Was Alvin Greene a plant? A dirty trick?”

The Times left out one possibility: that the bar is now so low that Democratic voters thought Mr. Greene was an improvement on the machine candidate. Maybe he is. An administration in collapse shakes out not only the opportunists on the Left but brings out the opportunists on the Right. My elders told me they had never seen so many anti-Japanese guerillas in their life till the day the First Cavalry rolled into Manila. As for myself, you would never believe how many people I never knew existed in the anti-Marcos movement were secretly operating until the day he left the country.

The challenge over the next few years is simple: to forge a principled, disciplined political movement that is based on more than just a superficial disenchantment with the woes of President Obama. And this must be done in such a way as not to divide the country because every foreign enemy is going to choose the next two and a half years to strike. That means finding some way to attract adherents from both parties under a set of core principles, some of which may be:

  1. Smaller government and fewer entitlements;
  2. A reduction in regulation and a rebuilding of productivity;
  3. Secure borders; and maybe
  4. an overhaul of the politically correct educational system which is destroying  the  next generation.

It will be a little like performing surgery on a beating heart. The key will be know what to change and what to preserve.  It will be hard thing to pull off, but necessary if there is to be any chance of replacing fantasy with something approaching reality.  Difficult, but not nearly as impossible as the vision the President has founded on the thin airs of rhetoric.

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