Tom Foreman | BIO
Here is an oil spill riddle: What is the difference between BP’s website, the White House Press Office, and those horns the soccer fans keep blowing at the World Cup? Well, two of them produce a craze-inducing, ceaseless whine that makes it impossible to keep track of the real action. The third is a plastic souvenir.
Back when the oil started gushing (which seems like sometime in the mid 1970’s now,) the promises from BP and the White House that they had the best minds on the case were at least vaguely reassuring. The daily verse and chorus of press releases and expert assessments were like an old standard crooning from your iPod. But now the statements from on high sound like the mindless buzz of those vuvuzela horns.
Public fatigue and anger over the drone from the Gulf reached a tipping point this week, and now no one in power is being spared. When President Obama spoke about the crisis from the Oval Office, his message clearly crash landed like an oily pelican on the deck of public opinion. Congress is faring no better. For all its endless hearings into the matter, the Capitol Hill crowd appears incapable of producing much of anything beyond bluster. And BP is being tagged daily as the latest poster child for corporate irresponsibility and insensitivity. Case in point: The BP exec who referred to his concern for all the “small people” hurt by his spill. Nice work, Gulliver.
At the core of the trouble is a basic lack of faith. The polls all show it. Many Americans simply do not believe what BP is promising. The company says it is committed to taking care of the mess, but BP sounds like a great big corporate teenager promising he’ll clean his room. We have been given no real reason to think that Congress will ride to the rescue, and even though many Americans still like President Obama, they see his handling of this affair as weak, indecisive, and late.
So when all these erstwhile bandleaders say, yet again, “C’mon, America, join us in a chorus of ‘God Save the Gulf,’” it’s not that people don’t want to sing along. It’s just that the drone of the same old words, with too little action, keeps drowning out any real song of salvation.
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