UPDATED: Conservatives: Obama isn't to blame for oil spill, but blame him anyway


In recent weeks, conservative media have declared that Obama isn't to blame for the response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill while simultaneously attacking his response to it.

Having it both ways: It's "unfair" to blame Obama for spill, conservatives say, but it "serves him right"

George Will: President Obama "is being unfairly blamed" for oil spill response, "and it sort of serves him right." On the May 30 edition of ABC's This Week, Will said of Obama's response to the oil spill: "He is being unfairly blamed and it sort of serves him right." He added: "Progressive politics from Wilson to Obama have said, 'Concentrate power in Washington, concentrate Washington power in the executive branch, concentrate within the executive branch lots of experts, and there's no telling what wonders government can do.' This just strikes at the narrative at competence that all of this depends on."

Ace of Spades: It's "childish ... to believe the President can fix" the oil spill, but conservatives should "demagogue the hell out of" the oil spill anyway. In a May 29 Ace of Spades post, blogger Ace wrote that while "the President is not all-powerful, and ... sometimes things are simply beyond his control," the right should "demagogue the hell out of" the oil spill because "Democrats and media forced a certain rule on Bush (even against our objections) ... and that precedent applies equally (if vindictively) to President Present":

There's an interesting and useful debate among conservatives about whether to maintain their own intellectual consistency or demagogue the hell out of this, as liberals have done and will continue doing until the end of time.

Should we note that the President is not all-powerful, and that sometimes things are simply beyond his control, and that it's a childish view of the world to believe the President can fix serious problems simply by thinking real hard about them, being smart, and barking out orders in a clipped and authoritative voice?


Anyone can probably guess my own reaction: I am in favor of the sort of intellectual consistency that says if the Democrats and media forced a certain rule on Bush (even against our objections), then they won that debate, and they established a precedent, and that precedent applies equally (if vindictively) to President Present.

I believe in a politics that abides by the judicial notion of precedent. If a court establishes a rule, then that is the rule to be followed in the future. It doesn't matter if we (the judges in the minority) argued for a different rule and objected to the rule that prevailed. We lost. A rule was established, and that rule should be followed.

We cannot and should not allow a vindictive rule to be pressed against our favorites, over our objections, and then, when our opponents are caught in the brutal operation of that rule, argue again against precedent to reassert the rule we wanted initially and let our opponent off the hook.

Nope, not for me. This is the rule you wanted; this is the rule you shall have.

Krauthammer: It "will be unfair" to make the oil spill "Obama's Katrina," but it's Obama's fault for not being "modest about his own powers." In his May 28 syndicated column, Charles Krauthammer wrote:

In the end, speeches will make no difference. If BP can cap the well in time to prevent an absolute calamity in the Gulf, the president will escape politically. If it doesn't -- if the gusher isn't stopped before the relief wells are completed in August -- it will become Obama's Katrina.

That will be unfair, because Obama is no more responsible for the damage caused by this than Bush was for the damage caused by Katrina. But that's the nature of American politics and its presidential cult of personality: We expect our presidents to play Superman. Helplessness, however undeniable, is no defense.

Moreover, Obama has never been overly modest about his own powers. Two years ago next week, he declared that history will mark his ascent to the presidency as the moment when "our planet began to heal" and "the rise of the oceans began to slow."

Well, when you anoint yourself King Canute, you mustn't be surprised when your subjects expect you to command the tides.

Krauthammer: The "reality" is this leak has "never happened before," but Obama "anoint[ed]" himself King Knut" and "people expect you to command the tides." Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said on the May 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report:

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, you've got the reality here, and you've got the politics. The reality is we've never had a leak at this depth. It's a mile down, it's never happened before, and everything that's being done is experimental. There's a lot of attacks on BP, obviously, for the blow-out and also on the administration for the waiving of the permitting and all of that that preceded it. But once it already happened, I can't imagine why BP would not be doing -- I mean, it is doing everything it can. It's in its interest. It going to be losing billions of dollars as a result of this, it could be losing its reputation, it could lose its existence. Of course, it's trying to stop it, but this is new technology. And when Salazar said earlier when he said, I think, over the weekend, "If BP won't stop this, we're going to push them out of way," well, the admirable -- admirable -- well, it has affected my brain, apparently. Admiral Allen, who's head of the Coast Guard, has said if you push them out of way, who's left? There's nobody who has the expertise and the assets to do this. And I think that's right. We are joined at the hip. The politics of it, however -- Obama will get the blame as it continues. We imagine the president as Superman and he should stop all bad things that are happening. And the president hasn't helped that. Remember when he was nominated, he said his succession to the presidency would mark the day in which the earth began to heal and the oceans recede. Well, when you anoint yourself King Knut, you can't be surprised when the people expect you to command the tides, and obviously he can't.

Ace of Spades: People "overestimate" president's ability to stop spill, but Obama is "pretend[ing] he's been all over this from the start." After accusing Obama of engaging in a "conspiracy" to "take credit" for plugging the spill in a May 27 post, Ace of Spades blogger DrewM admits "[t]his is BP's mess," and "people overestimate the ability of a President to 'Do Something,' " but he's "not above scoring a few political points":

"Top Kill" Seems To Be Working In Gulf Oil Spill

Clearly it's part of a conspiracy so that Obama can take credit during his news conference this afternoon.


Obama has a press conference scheduled for I think 12:45 eastern. He's going to try and pretend he's been all over this from the start. Most people, including some Democrats, aren't buying it.


I'm somewhat conflicted on this. I think in these cases people overestimate the ability of a President to "Do Something".

This is BPs mess and they and others in the industry are best suited to deal with the immediate problem. The best thing the government can do in these cases is get out of the way (in terms of regulations and permit processes) and not overly micro-manage the situation.


As for the politics...I get the need for any President to be seen doing something and honestly I'm not above scoring a few political points. I just think it's dangerous in the long term for conservatives to be seen saying, "Oh my, something terrible happened. Where are the feds? Why aren't the feds doing more?"

Added: Just to be clear, the double standard is as infuriating as it is predictable. Someone on Twitter asked last week when this officially becomes Obama's Katrina. My response was I don't think Katrina was Bush's Katrina but a single standard would be nice.

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