The Campaign Spot

Obama Just Sees His Job Differently Than Many of Us Do

The probably more controversial part of today’s longer-than usual Jolt:

Obama’s Been Teed Off About the Spill From Day One

The RNC formulates a web ad hitting Obama for playing golf six times before ever meeting with the president of BP.

I don’t begrudge the president some down time, but do you ever get the feeling this president has more down time than you? And considering how we entered recession at the beginning of 2008, and two and a half years later, unemployment’s still close to 10 percent, maybe it’s time to cut back on the quail eggs and kobe beef? Maybe go for the cheeseburger, if Michelle will let him?

I can’t completely begrudge Michelle Obama and the kids going to the NBA Finals; I suppose we should be thankful that the president hasn’t folded a trip to the Staples Center into yet another fundraising trip for Barbara Boxer.

At the Daily Caller, Julie Gunlock sees it mostly as a media coverage issue: “Earlier this month, CNN’s Ed Henry posted pictures of a picnic hosted by the vice president, including cute images of Rahm Emanuel and the vice president engaging in a water gun fight. That same weekend, two senior male members of the White House communications staff were pictured, sans shirts, participating in some sort of drinking game at a well-known Georgetown barbeque joint. Now, I actually don’t begrudge the president and vice president or their staff a good time. My question lies with the mainstream media who fail to hold this administration to the same standard as the Bush administration.”

I’m not so sure it is merely a media coverage issue. We know Obama grew up in some pretty humble circumstances.  He gets a daily economic briefing to go with his morning CIA briefing, he knows what million of unemployed Americans, and millions more just-getting-by Americans are going through. I wonder if he ever bites into some gourmet food, or hangs out with Paul McCartney, or sees one more White House visit from a championship professional sports team, and thinks, ‘you know, this just isn’t the right time for this sort of thing.’ Obviously, he doesn’t object; or hasn’t yet.

But Keith Hennessey offered a glimpse of what an Obama presidency could be like if he saw the job differently…

Imagine that the President proposes new legislation targeted at the problem of engineering safety in deepwater drilling.  Imagine his legislation contains five provisions:

1.       Require that all deepwater wells have a relief well in place before production begins.

2.       Mandate requirements for double piping and a list of other industry engineering best practices.  The prior best practice for engineering safety becomes the legally mandated minimum.

3.       Mandate that each deepwater drilling operation be insured for at least $20 B of environmental damage before production can begin.  Insurers will therefore require further engineering stringency to protect themselves.

4.       Raise the legal liability cap for any drilling platform to $50 B, just to be safe.

5.       All new wells must meet all of the above requirements, and all existing wells must cease production until they meet them.  (The details here might need some work.)

With these requirements, some amount of deepwater drilling would cease because it wouldn’t be economical with the added costs.  I’m confident that policymakers across the board would say, “Fine.  If the added protection is not worth that extra cost, then don’t drill there.  I want a belt, and suspenders, and Velcro too.”

I believe the legislation in scenario 1 would pass the House and Senate within a week or two, with overwhelming and possibly unanimous bipartisan majorities.  The President could quickly unify the country and celebrate a wise bipartisan solution to preventing the recurrence of a painful problem.  That would still leave the existing crisis, but the long-term policy issues would be solved.

Policy details aside, you would have liked that president, huh?  Takes on a problem by trying to fix a problem, not trying to use a crisis as a sales opportunity for an already-unpopular agenda item.

Too bad there’s no sign of that guy.


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