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The Difference Four Years Can Make

June 22nd, 2010

So, Republicans have been going on and on about how the Deepwater Horizon disaster is Obama’s fault, calling it “Obama’s Katrina” and “Obama’s 9/11” and so on. They have been carping at every element of his reaction, real or imagined.

But to appreciate the situation better, ask this question: how would the situation have been different if it had happened 4 years ago, during the Bush administration? What would Bush have done differently? Even more to the point, 4 years ago, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress as well.

There would probably be zero difference in actually dealing with the spill; Bush, at that point, would not have dawdled like he did with Katrina, not again. Not that he would have in the first place–he let New Orleans drown because he didn’t really see them as a constituency, not really. But an oil issue? That’s something he would not hesitate to recognize. As much as it resonates that Bush screwed everything up, the actual technical response to the spill would probably be the same–the good and the bad. Someone correct me if I’m wrong here.

No, the main difference would be in the political response. If Congress had hearings, they certainly would have been much more forgiving and tolerant of BP than Congress is today; they might even had tried to make them closed-door, or otherwise shield BP from too much bad exposure. And do you really believe that Bush would have pressured BP to make $20 billion available? Nope. The U.S. taxpayer would be footing the whole bill, you betcha. Barton’s apology to BP would be closer to the federal government’s approach in general, instead of now being the pariah’s view.

Helps to put things in perspective.

Oh, and before a right-winger tries to bring up the “Jones Act” BS that Fox News is trying to push as an Obama debacle, read this:

46 USC 55113 – Use of foreign documented oil spill response vessels

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an oil spill response vessel documented under the laws of a foreign country may operate in waters of the United States on an emergency and temporary basis, for the purpose of recovering, transporting, and unloading in a United States port oil discharged as a result of an oil spill in or near those waters, if

(1) an adequate number and type of oil spill response vessels documented under the laws of the United States cannot be engaged to recover oil from an oil spill in or near those waters in a timely manner, as determined by the Federal On-Scene Coordinator for a discharge or threat of a discharge of oil; and

(2) the foreign country has by its laws accorded to vessels of the United States the same privileges accorded to vessels of the foreign country under this section.

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