Dear God, Make Me a Walrus, So I Can Swim Far, Far Away… (June 24, 2010)


So much bad juju has beset the already beleaguered Obama administration this week, it has been difficult to keep up. Even for the small purposes of organizing this post, I hardly knew where to begin. But let’s dive right in, shall we?

General McChrystal apparently has an Icelandic volcano to thank for his undoing. It’s been said that the now former Afghan Commander’s diarrhea of the mouth was the result of an ill-fated bus trip, replete with cheap beer, that the General took with his team and Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings. Had McChrystal given me a ring before he began drunkenly castigating members of the President’s cabinet, including the too-often mocked Vice-President, I would have told him what I learned myself the hard way long ago. “Car bar” is not the time for serious office discussions. Especially in front of a young, anti-war media representative with a tape recorder.

A brilliant military career thereby goes up in beer bongs and President Obama must deal with the implication that he is an armed forces chief without control. With the controversial surge about to ramp up in the Afghan region, this PR mess could not have come at worse time. Americans are tired of war, especially battles that are strategized in a reactive, discombobulated way. How do we support the administration’s plan when its ground leaders are insubordinate? Black eye #1 for the week.

Moving onto Federal New Orleans judge Martin Feldman, who ruled this week that the administration’s 60-day moratorium on deep water oil drilling was “arbitrary and capricious.” Republicans just love to howl about “activist liberal judges” who try to rewrite law. But tell me where in the Constitution it says that the judiciary branch can override a perfectly reasonable Executive Order just because they don’t like it? Come to find out (surprise!) that Feldman is a right wing oil guy. The bench ruling will almost certainly be overturned, but this is an unnecessary red tape headache that opens a window for oil companies to return to business as usual, even as crude continues to blacken the Gulf. Obama must respond to the public impression that his orders are easily flouted. Black eye #2.

What makes Feldman’s decision the more confounding is that the Executive Order was rescinded, even as it becomes more apparent each day that we are far from having a handle on the BP deep water trainwreck. Congress summoned Big Oil Executives to the Capitol the week of June 9th, with the idea that maybe something could be learned from the disaster response plans of BP’s competitors. Instead, we discovered that the only preparations these avaricious corporations had was to dig, baby dig and ask God really nicely not to let anything bad happen. But in case a oily walrus (not seen in the region for upwards of three million years) should happen ashore, they knew how to clean him right up!

And only yesterday, BP reported that two cleanup workers had died, and the containment cap partially subduing the gusher, knocked off by a robot submarine. More lives lost that will never become the front page news story it ought to be. Is it “capricious” Judge Feldman, to expect some resolution to this now months long horror story before going back into the Gulf with more deep water drills? I wish the families of these dead men, and the 14 who perished during the initial explosion, had been present in court when the judge handed down his decision. I doubt he could have located the gumption to look them in the eye.

BP and the White House are evidently no closer to solving this tremendous environmental and economic crisis than they were eight weeks ago. The idea that everyone responsible for this mess ought to be in jail, instead of floundering in a safe and comfortable office, permeates the American mindset incrementally. Black eye #3.

The President, blameless or otherwise, has been humiliated at every turn this week. About the only thing that has gone right for Obama is his meeting with grass-roots gay activists at the White House on Tuesday night. As major metropolitan locales throughout the country celebrate their annual “pride” festivals, GLBT leaders wanted to discuss the administration’s progress in repealing the embarrassing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military recruitment policy, the ongoing fight against Prop 8 in California, and an overall strategy platform which includes a hate crimes bill, expanded benefits for gay State Department employees and unpaid family leave to care for gay partners. The community remains disappointed in Obama for the slow pace with which he and his team are working to address these issues, but they continue to remain “hopeful and optimistic.” During a week like this, consistent faith can only be looked upon as a “win.”

While one ruckus after another disrupts the flow of regular business, it is almost easy to forget that Americans await action on other serious issues like energy, immigration, unemployment, and the fiscal crisis experienced by nearly all 50 States. This latter situation presently accounts for the once bedrock educational and human service networks coming apart at the seams. No funds means no resources, which threatens not only families and children in the present tense, but additionally places the next generation at risk as well.

I would like to recommend that Obama begin to wade through the disorganized cesspool of his agenda by creating a new cabinet post: Secretary of Shit Storms.

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