06.07.10

Obama's Oil Spill Insanity

The president may say he’s “furious” about the spill, but he sure doesn’t show it—and he’s managed to hang out with Paul McCartney and Kelly Clarkson in the meantime. Would the media have let Bush off so easy?

I want, just for a second, to pretend that there is a Republican president in office right now. It doesn’t matter which Republican—George W. Bush, my father, Mitt Romney. Any Republican.

As we push Day 50 of this oil spill, I find myself questioning why it has taken so long for the mainstream media, aside from James Carville and Chris Matthews, to start putting extreme pressure on the president. I wonder whether the media, or the American public, for that matter, would be reacting to this oil disaster differently if a Republican were in office right now.

What I need right now is more intense leadership from my president. And I need more emotion.

Why are we still giving President Obama and his administration a break? How would the media feel if President Bush were hosting his second “music party” at the White House? Hanging out with the likes of Paul McCartney and Kelly Clarkson and singing “Hey Jude” while oil continues to destroy the Gulf Coast?

Although the president canceled a previously scheduled trip to Indonesia, he has held two—yes, two—music parties at the White House in the last week. What would the reaction be if Bush had held two music parties during a time of national disaster? I ask because these things bother me, and I believe that it would be a bigger deal if Obama still weren’t held to a different standard by the mainstream media than other presidents.

Shocking photos of oil-soaked animals in the Gulf

Eric Dezenhall: Why BP Didn’t Plan for This Crisis
I know Obama has made it clear that he is “furious.” He did so by stating on Larry King Live that he is “furious,” even if that fury doesn’t seem to be conveyed through his raw emotions. Still, I also know I wake up every morning with anxiety. As I and every other American watch the coasts of Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, as a deep cloud of oil continues to spew into the ocean, there is an extreme feeling of helplessness and anxiety. We live in weird times—I can watch, moment by moment, the destruction of my country’s coastline.

I grew up vacationing in Destin, Florida, and to hear that the oil has now reached that area is heartbreaking. Anyone who has been to Destin knows how spectacular its white beaches are and how tragic the idea of them covered in oil is. I am scared, I am upset, and I am angry that the media and the American public aren’t putting more pressure on the president. Yes, it is just as much BP’s problem, and the company should be held equally accountable. I also don’t begin to understand the extreme bureaucracy involved with a British oil company in the context of this oil leak. But what I need right now is more intense leadership from my president. And I need more emotion. Maybe these are things he is incapable of doing or his administration doesn’t think is a smart idea. I no longer care.

This past week, we were told that it could take as long as August for the oil leak to be plugged, and we are only seeing the beginning of the damage the spill is going to cause. Some say we will be experiencing the repercussions of this spill anywhere from years to decades—or, in essence, my adult lifetime. And in the meantime we are being told we should expect to wait up to 90 days for this oil leak to be stopped. Every morning for the rest of the summer, we could wake up and continue to watch on live television what the breakdown of an oil well looks like. Some generations have watched revolutions and wars televised; mine, it seems, is going to watch the environment destroyed.

The idea of waiting until August for this leak to be stopped is infuriating. I do believe Obama is working as hard as possible, but his problem is that he is not conveying this to the American public. I want him to show me how angry he is. Because at this point, it seems as if his trips to Louisiana are things he is doing in between hanging out with rock stars.

Meghan McCain is a columnist for The Daily Beast. Originally from Phoenix, she graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She is a New York Times bestselling children's author, previously wrote for Newsweek magazine, and created the Web site mccainblogette.com. Her new book, Dirty Sexy, Politics, will be published in August.