This sentence from Dan Froomkin pretty much says it all when it comes to President Obama’s speech on the oil spill:
How unmoored from reality are Obama and his top advisers to think that some pretty words with so little substance could accomplish so much?
The words weren’t even that pretty.
My deeper fear is that President Obama’s limited reach still exceeds the nation’s feeble grasp. Is there a great untapped willingness to take on the challenge of climate change or even moving to cleaner fuels for other, less politically toxic reasons? I don’t see it.
June 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm
I think it’s pretty damn clear from polls and consumer behavior that most Americans are lukewarm on anything that would raise costs or taxes for them until something comes along that really makes it clear that there is a crisis on hand.
I don’t entirely think this is a bad policy – you can waste a lot of time & energy fighting phantom problems if you spend all your time worrying about what could go wrong – but when it comes to oil (and energy in general) I think there is a problem that needs addressing, but the trouble is that the costs of it wind up being in things like the trade deficit and isolated, “abnormal” events that are very hard to tie to the problems of individuals and are even rather abstract for the country as a whole.
And I don’t think the GOM oil spill is enough to shake people out of it when it comes to oil. The thought will be (again, not entirely unjustified) that if this was the result of poor regulation and unsafe practices and that it was avoidable, since after all such an accident had not occurred for decades. “Fix the problems, keep drilling.”
Now I think there is a systemic problem of regulatory corruption that will result in more spills, but that is a meta-problem that affects all US government regulation, so I don’t think its specific effects here will be considered determinative.