Obama: Watch This Drive!

Memeorandum juxtaposes two stories, a Politico piece quoting President Obama saying the Gulf oil spill “echoes 9/11” and a Hill report on his four-hour golf outing in what I can testify was oppressive heat.  Gateway Pundit‘s Jim Hoft summarizes the two with a single word:  “Leadership.”

This is mildly amusing, I suppose, especially in light of the unfair “Watch this drive!” gotcha from Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11.  What goes around comes around.  Indeed, I’ve seen some legitimate frustration from Jon Stewart, especially, over Obama’s ability to enjoy himself while so much suffering’s going on.

But it’s exceedingly silly.

First, while incredibly difficult to do, it’s vital that leaders take care of their own needs for rest and relaxation.  People make bad decisions when they’re tired and stressed.  Presidents always catch flak for vacationing, golfing, and whatnot.  But they’re actually in more need of those outlets than most of us.

Second, despite the mythological need to constantly be seen as “doing something,” there’s only so much any executive can do about the oil spill in any given day.   Indeed, even the people directly in charge of orchestrating the cap and cleanup efforts can only do so much managing and planning; there’s a lot of  “let the team do its job” and “wait and see” in between.

Third, in the particular case, the Politico headline is grossly misleading.  (Shocking, I know.) Here’s the substance of the president’s remarks:

Sounding reflective as he heads into a bruising electoral season, President Barack Obama told POLITICO columnist Roger Simon that the Gulf disaster “echoes 9/11” because it will change the nation’s psyche for years to come.

Obama — facing mounting criticism of his handling of the BP gusher, even from longtime allies — vowed to make a “bold” push for a new energy law even as the calamity continues to unfold. And he said he will use the rest of his presidency to try to put the United States on a course toward a “new way of doing business when it comes to energy.”

“In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11,” the president said in an Oval Office interview on Friday, “I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come.”

So, Obama isn’t comparing the spill to 9/11 in terms of its horrific nature or danger to the public but rather as a wake-up call that will cause us to rethink fundamental activities.   There’s nothing about rethinking our energy policy that requires the president to forgo the occasional round of golf.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. grampagravy says:

    Presidents have been declaring wake-up calls and promising changes in energy policy since the 1970s. It isn’t going to happen this time either.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Presidents have been declaring wake-up calls and promising changes in energy policy since the 1970s. It isn’t going to happen this time either.

    I tend to agree.

  3. anjin-san says:

    Presidents have been declaring wake-up calls and promising changes in energy policy since the 1970s.

    Yea, and if we had listened to Jimmy Carter, we would not be in the mess we are in today.