So how is the president doing on
- Actually responding to the disaster,
- Appearing to respond to the disaster, and
- Messaging on the disaster?
Grade on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being the worst). Feel free to provide a score on how hard this is going to hit his Presidency. My scores below.
NYT columnist Frank Rich opines:
FOR Barack Obama’s knee-jerk foes, of course it was his Katrina. But for the rest of us, there’s the nagging fear that the largest oil spill in our history could yet prove worse if it drags on much longer. It might not only wreck the ecology of a region but capsize the principal mission of the Obama presidency….
The only good news from the oil spill is that when catastrophe strikes, even some hard-line conservatives, like Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, start begging for the federal government to act, and act big. It’s the crunch moment for government to make its case “” as Obama belatedly started to do on Thursday. But words are no match for results. As long as the stain washes up on shore, the hole in BP’s pipe will serve the right as a gaping hole in the president’s argument for expanded government supervision of, for starters, Big Oil and big banks. It’s not just the gulf that could suffer for decades to come.
I have already weighed in on some of this. But here goes:
1) He gets a 7 on actual response.
2) He gets at best a 5 on perceived response.
3) He gets a 2 on messaging.
Note: I am grading on a curve here, rather than some imaginary absolute scale.
Maureen Dowd has a silly column, which opens “President Spock’s behavior is illogical.” Actually, Spock would be doing a better job on the response, but we’re not grading on that scale! In any case, Spock couldn’t get elected president.
I don’t think Obama’s problem is lack of emotion or even an inability to express emotion. I just think his whole team’s messaging is so dreadful it mucks up everything they try to do (see Is progressive messaging a “massive botch”? Part 2: Drew Westen on how “The White House has squandered the greatest opportunity to change both the country and the political landscape since Ronald Reagan”).
I think they have figured out almost in time that this is make or break for their administration — and you’ll see Cabinet Secretaries their round the clock now. But the bottom line is this eco-disaster will hit Obama’s presidency hard — and the only plausible way to save it is to pivot once and for all to a sustained effort to get us off of the dirty, unsafe fuels of the 19th century under the clean safe fuels of the 21st century that never run out (see “Will eco-disasters destroy Obama’s legacy?“). Of course, BP or not BP, it was always the case that if he couldn’t do that, his presidency was not going to be a success.
What do you think?