Saturday, June 5, 2010

Obama Needs to Take Charge of this Spill and Use it to Leverage America's Future

by Professor Ron Daniels

Clearly British Petroleum Oil Company (BP) is responsible for the most disastrous oil spill in U.S. history and must be held fully accountable for its negligent behavior. Beyond overseeing the crisis and ensuring that BP is deploying the necessary resources to stop the flow of oil and clean-up the damaged beaches and marshlands, there is precious little President Obama can do to clean up the mess. However, I agree with New York Timescolumnist Thomas Friedman and other commentators that the crisis presents the President with an opportunity to offer bold and visionary leadership in terms of the future direction of the U.S. economy.

Ever the pragmatist and craving “bi-partisan” support for his massive energy bill, prior to the horrific oil spill, Obama caved in to the McCain/Palin “drill baby drill” crowd and ordered more areas opened for off shore drilling. Earlier he threw another plum the Republicans way by placing priority on building new nuclear power plants. I strongly disagree with these decisions but chalk it up to Obama being Obama. It’s his inside the beltway method of trying to drag defiant Republicans to the legislative table at a time when they are out to create a “waterloo” moment by whatever means necessary to defeat him and advance their conservative agenda. However, the oil spill has potentially created a new political calculus.

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