“I am furious at this entire situation because this is an example where somebody didn’t think through the consequences of their actions. This is imperiling an entire way of life and an entire region for potentially years.”—President Obama 6/04/2010
“The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas, much of it for the first time, officials said …Mr. Obama said several times during his presidential campaign that he supported expanded offshore drilling. He noted in his State of the Union address in January that weaning the country from imported oil would require “tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.”—John Broder in The New York Times—3/30/2010
Cleary, a fair assessment is that President Obama is in way over his head. But this is no knock on Obama. How could it be otherwise for any politician wedded to central planning? Even competent, well-reasoned, and well-intended planners cannot outperform the collective wisdom of the market. Offshore oil drilling such as BP’s Deepwater Horizon site were enabled by politicians who substituted their policies and plans—in the form of liability limits—for the wisdom of the market. The catastrophic results will change the lives of millions.
Leadership begins with taking responsibility for your own mistakes, not by chanting a not-my-fault mantra. The President and his enablers are trying to make believe he is apart from and not part of the problem. This colossal failure of leadership during a time of rising fear, falling stock prices, a simmering economic depression, and now, an environmental catastrophe will brew dangerous political extremism on both the right and the left.
Dmitry Orlov witnessed the collapse of the Soviet Union, and sees parallels between the disaster at Chernobyl and the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe. His view of the future is darker than mine but he warns:
It is natural for us to naïvely expect our leaders—be they corporate executives or their increasingly decorative and superfluous adjuncts in government—to be our betters, having been picked for leadership positions by their ability to lead us through difficult and unfamiliar terrain. We expect them to have the mental agility and flexibility to be able to revise their mental maps as the circumstances dictate. We don’t expect them to be stupid, and are surprised to find that indeed they are…These leaders are now attempting to lead us all on a dream-walk to oblivion.