Examiner Editorial: Dereliction on the oil spill 

An angry, frustrated President Barack Obama reportedly exhorted aides to just “plug the damn hole” a week after the crude oil and natural gas began blowing out of BP’s Deepwater Horizon well a mile below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico.

Here’s a better piece of advice for Obama, his aides and everybody else in Washington, D.C., dealing with what’s rapidly becoming the worst environmental disaster in American history: Stop the damn politics, quit pointing fingers and focus on finding a solution.

Nothing else matters until the well is capped. What has been desperately needed from the beginning of this tragedy is leadership. What we’ve gotten instead from the White House has been blame-shifting, bureaucratic gamesmanship and political opportunism.

All three elements reached an apotheosis Wednesday when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that a senior Obama official had lamented that the administration, in Dowd’s words,  “should have acted more urgently to re-examine the dark legacy of Cheney in the Energy and Interior Departments.”

That’s just great — hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw crude oil have been erupting into the Gulf for more than a month and the president’s men are trying to steer the blame to former Vice President Dick Cheney? That Obama’s most trusted advisers are indulging in partisan lunacy in the second month of this crisis is a staggering commentary on how inadequate these people are for the demands of the moment.

Leadership begins at the top.

First, Obama should cancel all political fundraising activities such as his trip earlier this week to San Francisco to help Sen. Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign. He also should instruct his Cabinet members that there will be no more blunders like the New York fundraiser EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson planned to attend this week until the public found out about it.

Second, cancel the Memorial Day weekend in Chicago. Go to New Orleans and stay there until the crisis eases. Nobody with the Coast Guard, BP, Gov. Bobby Jindal or state and local officials and volunteers will be taking their ease this weekend.

Finally, fire Jackson and her politically appointed aides, then instruct the career senior executives who remain at the EPA to stop putting up bureaucratic roadblocks to those in the field coping with the crisis. It’s bad enough that the EPA issued its ludicrous directive to BP to use a different dispersant without knowing that none exists. It’s far worse that Jindal and other Louisiana officials have for days been begging the EPA for permission to take needed actions to block the oil from polluting beaches and environmentally fragile marshes along the coast.

As Democratic strategist James Carville said, “Franklin Roosevelt would have jumped out of his wheelchair and run down here to be in the middle of this.” Get moving, Mr. President.

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