The devastation of our coastline is the worst part of it.
But, oh, the painful lessons of the Gulf oil spill.
Hopefully President Obama now understands that it is an “art” (and clearly not a “science”) for a president to know how, when and in what circumstances to intervene, and what stance to take with the challenges at hand.
Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt responded inadequately to the Great Depression. John F. Kennedy mishandled the Bay of Pigs incident. Jimmy Carter bungled the Iranian hostage crisis. And, to put it in President Obama’s own words five years ago, his predecessor George W. Bush displayed “unconscionable ineptitude” in his response to Hurricane Katrina.
Let’s hope that over the past 55 days or so, somebody has told Obama about some of the struggles of his predecessors.
Yet, another lesson — for all of us — is that our president’s disposition toward economic matters is, to put it simply, very destructive. The president seems to naively assume that wealth creation is essentially a guaranteed thing, and the big question surrounding the economy is how wealth will be distributed, and to whom. President Obama also seems to presume that he need only stipulate that something is true, and it will be so, and that all will be well.
Consider, for example, Obama’s proclamation on May 27 that he would seek a ban on all off-shore oil drilling. It is understandable why he felt the political need to say such a thing, given that the initial explosion that touched off the spill had happened several weeks prior on April 20.
Yet the president fulfilling his political need could cost tens of thousands of jobs in oil-related industries, and could cost the U.S. economy — especially in the Gulf Coast states — hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues. Obama’s attempt to “speak into existence” a solution to the oil spill crisis could end up exacerbating yet another looming crisis — unemployment and a sluggish economy — while doing nothing to contain the spill itself.
Similarly, Obama seems to be uncaring about the economic and diplomatic tensions he has created because of his administration’s disposition toward the British Petroleum Corporation. On May 3, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced in his now-famous press conference that Washington had a “boot on the throat” of B.P. This, apparently, was yet another attempt by the Obama administration to appear as though it was in control and handling things.
But as of June 10, the left-wing MSNBC network had estimated that shares of B.P. had lost some $71 billion in value, in no small part because of the U.S. federal government’s threats on the corporation. This, in turn, has engendered a backlash against Obama in the U.K., especially from those whose retirement pensions are invested in B.P. stock.
This illustrates one of the greatest tragedies of the Obama presidency: Our president’s harshest, most angry, most aggressive words are usually aimed at free enterprise. It’s difficult to imagine our president ever claiming to have a “boot on the throat” of Islamic terrorists, or Iran, or North Korea. Yet even dating back to his earliest days on the presidential campaign trail, he has often spoken words of vitriol toward American businesses, including pharmaceutical companies, car manufacturers, and — yes — oil companies.
The world is learning a very painful lesson — a lesson about Barack Obama.
Austin Hill (www.AustinHill.net) is author of “The Virtues of Capitalism” and a frequent guest host for Arizona’s Newstalk KTAR (92.3 FM).