Reaction to Barry's lifeless, specificity-lacking speech
“Junk Shot,” blared the headline at Huffington Post. Salon took a similar theme: “Just words: Oval Office speech fizzles.” ...
“It was a great speech if you were on another planet for the last 57 days,” said Olbermann on his show’s recap of the speech.
He noted that there was “not even much of a pitch for his own energy bill which, as he mentioned, was passed by the House, which he did not mention was stalled in the Senate and still sits there.”
“Nothing specific,” he added. “Nothing specific at all.”
Appearing with Olbermann, “Hardball” host Matthews said Obama fell short in showing the American public that he is in charge.
“I don’t sense executive command,” Matthews said.
Huffington Post, underneath a picture of Obama, linked to stories from its own writers on what he was “overlooking” and asking “what was the point of that terrible speech?”
Ouch. Granted, those opinions aren't as harsh as other ones. Take, for example, John Hinderacker's take on the speech at PowerLine. (HT to Hugh Hewitt.) Mr. Hinderacker is a lawyer, and takes a sharp scalpel to the president's speech:
I read President Obama's Oval Office speech at an airport gate rather than seeing it on television, so I might have misjudged its impact. But it struck me as uninspiring at best. Obama has been behind the curve ever since the Deepwater Horizon exploded, and over the last week or two he has transparently tried to stop the political bleeding with a series of symbolic acts. The problem is that these gestures won't do anything to contain the oil that is already swirling around the Gulf--currently spewing out at an upwardly-revised estimate of up to 60,000 barrels per day--and the environmental disaster will continue to unfold over the coming weeks and months regardless of what the federal government now does.
So nothing Obama says is likely to change the negative impression the public has already formed, rightly or not, of the administration's response to the spill. Residents of Louisiana, by a 50-35 margin, rate the Obama administration's response worse than the Bush administration's performance on Hurricane Katrina.
It's hard to see how an Oval Office Speech could help much, even if it had not been pedestrian. In fact, the speech offered nothing new, and featured the same BP-bashing and pledges to unleash squadrons of lawyers to collect damages that already grate on most Americans. Obama doesn't seem to understand how hollow, and sometimes petulant, his vows to make BP pay sound.
But what struck me the most about tonight's speech is how dishonest Obama was. There is nothing new about this, but tonight's performance seemed to pack a lot of whoppers into a relatively small space. Here are a few:
I've talked to shrimpers and fishermen who don't know how they're going to support their families this year. I've seen empty docks and restaurants with fewer customers - even in areas where the beaches are not yet affected. I've talked to owners of shops and hotels who wonder when the tourists will start to come back. The sadness and anger they feel is not just about the money they've lost. It's about a wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost.
I refuse to let that happen. Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company's recklessness.
Two problems here. First, collecting money from BP won't restore the way of life that many on the Gulf fear is slipping away. Second, while human error no doubt played a role in the disaster, there is no evidence that BP was "reckless." As I noted yesterday, BP's market capitalization has declined by around 50 percent--$100 billion--as a result of the spill. By any rational measure, BP has been harmed more by the spill than anyone else, even Barack Obama. It serves no purpose to launch unsupported accusations of recklessness. One might say, on the contrary, that it is reckless to do so.
I'd cite the whole thing from Mr. Hinderacker, but I think you ought to go and read it for yourselves. It's lengthy, but he hammers the president on his whoppers, his twisting of facts, and more importantly he unloads on the president for the one thing that people down in the Gulf wanted to hear.
He offered no solution. He blasted British Petroleum again. And he basically offered up the idea of a carbon tax. Taxes are the last thing people in the Gulf wanted to here. Given the huge deficits the government is running up right now, the people have no more money to give to Uncle Sam, and if the Democrats go along with this they're finished in November. It's already apparent that they'll take a drubbing at the ballot box in November, but if they go along with the idea of adding another tax to our backs we'll make sure they don't see the slightest hint of power for the next decade.
Instead of speeches and more empty suit rhetoric this nation wanted to hear solutions to the problem. He gave none. As Keith Olbermann observed (cited above) there was nothing specific that he proposed to the nation. I'd add that people are also sick of him pointing fingers. He is the President of the United States, and at some point during his term in office (may it only be four years) he needs to stand up and be a leader. Since being inaugurated last January he has done what he did last night.
He voted present.