Obama’s Katrina?

Conservatives are calling the BP oil spill, “Obama’s Katrina.” Interesting. What exactly, my dear conservative friend, went wrong during Katrina, in your view? My recollection is that liberals thought the response was slow, completely inadequate, and irresponsible. Some even saw racism, opportunism (see Klein’s book The Shock Doctrine), and corruption. But conservatives generally defended the Bush administration’s response. They simply chalked it up to a natural disaster, and in some cases blamed the victims for expecting government help.

But now, with Obama in office, they are comparing the response to this man-made oil spill by BP, to the government’s response to Katrina. So I take it that they now concede that the response to Katrina (by Bush) was woefully inadequate, and that the Obama administration’s response is also poor. Is that the point they are making now?

Jon Stewart’s analysis of this comparison is too funny to miss.

See this video (esp. from 5:00-7:46)

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Obama’s Katrina?
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I actually called in to the Sean Hannity Show today to make this same point, but was cut off prematurely.
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I actually think the government failed in both instances: the BP oil spill and Katrina. But the government’s real failure was before these disaster occurred. Securing the New Orleans levees in the industrial areas but not near the city and residential areas is an indication of where the priority was prior to Katrina. Securing the levees was one issue, but during the response, we can still remember the most glaring failures. Parked buses that could have saved lives, sending in Blackwater, failing to help people return to their homes, were but a few of the long list of failures. But with the BP spill, our government failed in entirely different ways. First, the Minerals Management Service trusted the word of the most irresponsible oil company of the past 20 years. When applying for a permit, BP said they were prepared with “proven method” for cleaning up a potential spill. Now they are saying this is the first time they have used such methods for cleaning up. That is mistake number one: Trusting the word of a company with a long history of environmental crimes, numerous worker safety violations, and market manipulation. Mistake number two: Obama should have done more to ensure that Secretary Ken Salazar was cleaning up the corruption between big oil and regulatory agencies. Although the secretary made a significant effort to minimize the cozy relationship between regulators and the regulated, it was not enough to establish and enforce standards that may have prevented the incident. In the clean up effort, the chemicals that are being pumped into the ocean to minimize oil damage, are making the clean-up crews very sick. This is probably not the best option for dealing with the spilled oil.

However, the President has been adamant in denying that the response that been slow or inadequate. See his recent press conference here.  Only time will tell whether the Federal government will be able to partner with BP to change the course of this disaster. One thing that seems certain. It is not Obama’s Katrina, Iraq War, Mission Accomplished, My Pet Goat, or Enron. It is BP’s oil spill. But in the minds of Americans, it could quickly become Obama’s “poorly managed spill” if the current effort does not make progress soon.