Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Obama compares oil spill to 9/11

Yesterday, The Guardian reported that Barack Obama
risked the wrath of September 11 victim's families by comparing the BP oil spill to the 2001 terrorist attacks, as pressure intensified on the White House to show greater urgency over the crisis.
They quoted from his interview with POLITICO:
"In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11, I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come"
There is no doubt that the analogy was carefully chosen, and Gerald Warner's interpretation is highly plausible:
“You never let a serious crisis go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s chief of staff, famously remarked. “And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” The extent to which his master has absorbed this maxim is demonstrated by Obama’s exploitation of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

After obsessively demonising “British Petroleum”, as his administration calls BP – a company 40 per cent British and 40 per cent American owned – Obama plumbed new depths this week by comparing the accident to the Twin Towers atrocity in 2001. To equate an environmental accident in which 11 workers tragically lost their lives with a ferocious terrorist attack that killed 2,995 people, 67 of them British, shows the extent to which Obama has lost touch with reality.

His agenda is to exaggerate the significance of the oil spill crisis to massive proportions, for two reasons. The first is that, the more Americans can be persuaded to regard the accident as a monumental, historic disaster, the less his patent impotence in the face of it will appear blameworthy. His second reason is that, in accordance with the Emanuel doctrine, he sees this as an opportunity to breathe new life into his moribund Cap-and-Trade climate change legislation.
At another point in the POLITICO interview,
Obama talked about America’s dependence on fossil fuels and how we could not “transition out of a fossil-fuel-based economy overnight. We can’t do it in five years. We can’t even do it in 10. So we’re going to continue to need to develop domestic oil consumption. We’re going to still need oil exports. And if it’s safe, then offshore drilling can be a part of that.”

He said, however, we have to invest in research and continue development of new resources building on the work that’s already been done on “solar and wind and biodiesel and energy efficiency in cars and buildings.”
It's not that I'm a fan of fossil fuels — personally, I'd much prefer nuclear power plants and hydrogen fuel cells — it's just that I'm wary of Obama's statist approach, with heavy taxation and regulation, and "investment" in favoured technologies. For Obama, it seems, just as for New Labour, the answer to any real or imagined problem is always 'more government'.

Take this artful bit of sophistry:
“I will say that there is a debate that we’ve been having for a long time and we’re going to keep on having in this country about the proper role of government,”
I think it’s fair to say, if six months ago, before this spill had happened, I had gone up to Congress and I had said we need to crack down a lot harder on oil companies, and we need to spend more money on technology to respond in case of a catastrophic spill, there are folks up there, who will not be named, who would have said this is classic, Big Government over-regulation and wasteful spending.”
Obama presents a false dichotomy. He pretends that only Big Government can keep Big Business in check. The reality is that Big Business thrives on Big Government. Both the oil industry and the burgeoning green industry benefit from special government favours. The political class, meanwhile, are happy so long as they can extract ever more wealth and power from the hapless citizenry.

It is clear that Obama will not let this crisis go to waste. The American dystopia presented in Atlas Shrugged, which once seemed far-fetched, grows closer by the day.

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