Oil crisis oozes out of control

On Wednesday BP will try to choke to death the gusher at the bottom of the sea by force-feeding it heavy drilling mud and cement, a tactic called a "top kill."
By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 26, 2010; 10:42 AM

In the early 1990s, after a rash of muggings, drive-by shootings and one subway killing, the New York Post ran a screaming front-page headline:


Just what David Dinkins was supposed to do was unclear, but crime was spiraling out of control and the mayor was expected to leap into action.

Nearly two decades later, Barack Obama finds himself under similar pressure to do something -- anything -- to stem an offshore disaster that has sent oil onto the shores of Louisiana. But if it there were a clear way out, the president already would have taken it.

On Monday night, Bill O'Reilly had this to say: "The truth is, nobody knows what to do. British Petroleum can't stop the oil flow and the U.S. government has no solution either. The disaster is located within U.S. waters so the president could have taken charge back on April 20th when it happened, when the well blew. But the president did not do that, allowing BP to deal with the situation."

Just the usual Fox criticism? At the same hour on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann said: "No one seems capable of doing one damn thing. . . . It is bad enough that BP's still running this repair, which is like having Jack the Ripper try to save the victim and run the murder investigation. Isn't anybody at the White House worried that it now looks like BP is running the White House?"

If anything, O'Reilly was more sympathetic to Obama.

The president's usual liberal allies are fed up. Chris Matthews says Obama's approach "scares me. He's been acting a little like a Vatican Observer here. When is he actually going to do something?"

James Carville declares it "stunning that the United States government and a company that makes two billion dollars a month can't tell us how much of what is pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. Our government is naive, thinking that they can partner with BP, that its interests are the same as BP's interests. They're not."

Here are some of the exchanges at Friday's White House press briefing:

CBS's Chip Reid: "But if they're not getting the job done, does the government just stand there as a spectator and hope for the best?"

Robert Gibbs: "Chip, there's nothing that would denote that the federal government has stood there and hoped for the best."

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