caption="BP CEO Tony Hayward was spotted out sharing dinner with Admiral Thad Allen." width=300 height=169]Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama continues to deal with oil, and a daily letter from me.
Dear Mr. President,
One of the weirder moments to occur this week, as we all dredged through Oil Watch: America Held Slippery was the story related by CNN contributor and Democratic strategist, James Carville. Seems the every-biting-bald-one strolled into a restaurant in New Orleans and spotted your chief officer on the scene, Admiral Thad Allen, sharing dinner with the head of BP, Tony Hayward. The fact that James did not chase the pair through the kitchen wielding a sharpened breadstick is a measure of impressive restraint, considering his outrage over this mess.
But that aside, the mere presence of these two key players sharing tea and pork chops as if they were noshing at Wimbledon is, as they say in the movies, “bad form, Pan!”
I know both of these men need to eat. I suppose we should applaud their willingness to continue their discussions even in lieu of a full-on lunch break. But it just looks bad. It looks like precisely what so many voters fear; political players, Democratic and Republican, are so deeply in bed with the large money folks, like BP, that they simply find it impossible to really play tough.
In the real world, people caught up in a brutal, life and death struggle with so much at stake, and supposedly potential criminal charges in the works, would find it unseemly at best, unethical at worst, to sit down at a restaurant and break bread like pals.
It’s not that the relationship has to be antagonistic, but it certainly can’t look so chummy.
Of course, we who are unwashed by the righteous and right-oily waters of Capitol Hill, know what you political types think of us. We are fodder for your electoral cannons, breeding stock for great screaming herds of babies to be kissed, and occasionally wallet wielders who toss hundred dollar bills into the political world’s ceaseless parade of passed hats. We are to be courted, cajoled, manipulated, and manhandled, but not taken seriously, especially when it comes to the proper way to conduct the big business of big government.
But politics is at least 50 percent perception, and the perception of two big power players (one, presumably there to police the other) sitting around in the restaurant might be hard to swallow by folks who fear they are about to lose their daily bread. Look at it this way: If you saw Al Capone and Elliot Ness sharing a game of bocce ball in the park while the grand jury was out, wouldn’t that make you a shade skeptical of their true relationship?
I’m just saying a note to your incident commander about conduct and appearances might be in order. Call if you can. I’m around this weekend.
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