Frankly, if I hear the phrase “Obama’s Katrina” one more time to refer to the President’s response to the oil spill, I think I will scream.
It reminds of the annoying need that many feel to stick the word -gate on the end of any presidential scandal. I lament this really lazy habit of the media. We can understand each situation well enough to make our own judgments without constant and faulty comparisons to old scandals or problems.
This is not Obama’s Katrina, its Obama’s oil spill.
Now it should go without saying that I do not believe that government has this magical unlimited power to resolve crises if the president will just wills it so. Actually, I am glad I live in a country where this is still so. So I don’t blame the President or his men for not knowing how to cap a well at 5000ft under water.
A large problem is that many people who voted for Obama believe the president has this magical ability. A larger problem is that I believe that the President thinks he should have this magical ability.
Obama does not want to be a leader. I once read a quote that I paraphrase “A leader helps others to get more out of themselves than they otherwise would.”
I like that quote and I think it reveals a lot about why Obama is failing with the spill. Obama doesn’t want to lead, he wants to will.
As we are all now familiar when the spill was a few weeks old, Obama grew angry because his will had been frustrated and blurted while departing “Just plug the damn hole!”
Leaders don’t blurt and depart, leaders help.
I believe that Americans have grown dissatisfied with the presidential response to the oil spill for this reason. They were not quick to hold Obama responsible because they actually understand the limits of the president better than he does. But what they expected from the president is that he was doing what he could to help.
Help. That is what leaders do, they help.
Over time, dissatisfaction has grown because people recognize that Obama is not trying to help. They talk of taking over BP, which everyone knows will not help. And now Obama says he wants to find some ass to kick. Ass kicking is not helping, especially while the spill is still happening.
But the most damning piece of evidence that has emerged and the one thing that I believe can hurt Obama long-term was revealed this past week. Not once during this entire crisis did Obama pick up the phone to the BP CEO and say “How can I help?”
That, more than the spilling oil, represents Obama’s failure of leadership. His failure to want to help. This is what will be remembered as his failure. He willed, he cursed, he blurted, and wanted to kick ass. But he would not help.