*Just when you think you’ve heard it all, you find out that you haven’t. It is difficult to process in a time of tragedy how some can politicize the moment.
The Gulf Coast Region of the United States is encountering another disaster of monumental proportions. It’s not from a natural disaster created by an act of God like Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The people of the Gulf are suffering from a man-made disaster created by an act of greed. The British Petroleum (BP) oil spill is growing by the day, and estimates of how many gallons are spewing into the ocean are growing by the minute.
Yet, last week when BP President, Tony Hayward was testifying before a congressional panel, trying to explain an unexplainable predicament, he was interrupted by Republican House member from Texas, Joe Barton. Barton, reading from a prepared script, “apologized” to Hayward for what he called a “$20 Million Dollars Shakedown” by the Obama administration.
The Gulf oil spill relief fund was announced the previous day when Hayward and BP executives met with President Obama at the White House. The fund represents a “good faith” measure by BP to compensate workers and small businesses who are losing income and having their livelihoods threatened due to the oil spill. The question had been asked all along, “Who was going to pay for all this?” BP had said all along that they intended to “make it right.” Yet, when (some) details were released, and the President is looking proactive on behalf of the people of the Gulf, it was labeled as a “shakedown” by the opposition party.
For a long time, we’ve known that the Republican Party was perceived as insensitive to the circumstances of the poor. We’ve seen it with Katrina, and with other policies that required special attention to the populous (including cutting off unemployment extensions this week). Now we can say that the Republican Party is just being unreasonable. I’d go as far as to call them, crazy.
So, who should pay for the damage being done by BP’s failure to abide to off-shore drilling standards? The government? Conservatives are caught in a twist on this. The same ones that are crying “less government, less government,” are suddenly the ones crying, “where’s the government? Where is da gov’ment?” What is also obvious is that the government can be managed, or mismanaged. What has become apparent in Obama’s 18 months is that he’s figured out the government and how it works. The Republicans are not giving him that. They are not going allow any victories on any occasion where the President can be seen as “solving the problem.”
Plainly put, the Republicans (not the Democrats) have a “Joe” problem. A “run-off at the mouth” Joe problem that they thought would complicate Obama’s first term (with Vice President Joe Biden’s “gaffe machine” antics). But coming behind South Carolina Rep. Joe “You Lie” Wilson antics last year, Joe “Shakedown” Barton has now shown that the Republicans can’t control their “Joes.” They send the “wannabes” in the party out front to make the most callous statements, and then they make em apologize for being insensitive and disrespectful. Barton recently apologized for apologizing to BP after members of his own party acknowledged the irrationality (and gross insensitivity) associated with their party colleague’s statements.
We call this “Mutt and Jeffing” us on the streets. It’s nothing more than the ole “bad cop, good cop” act where one puts it out there in a really raw way, and the other comes back and says its really not that way at all. But for the Republicans, it is that way…and would be that way—If they had their way. We’ve seen it before after 12 years of Reagan/Bush I and eight years of Baby Bush II, we know how raw they can get on the policy tip. Barton’s apology to BP was not sincere as Republicans are always defenders of capitalist exploitation—regardless of the damage. They believe the “markets” can correct everything. If Barton’s statement wasn’t ridiculous enough, Tea Party Candidate, Bill Randall, a GOP candidate for the 13th District House had the audacity to suggest that the White House wanted the leak and things went wrong, and so it’s the administration’s fault. It’s the kind of stupid stuff that confirms that the Republicans are crazy…like a fox. A fox will bait you, until it can bite you, and will bite you until it eats you up. They’re nippin’ at Obama heels, hoping to catch him by the ankle and pull him down. And they can count on FOX to spread the strategy of deflecting every sensible solution Obama comes with to problems that federal government must face, seen and unforeseen, attacking the spirit of national unity and government reform.
With less than two percent of the world’s oil reserves, the United States “oil junkie” behaviors have to be curtailed. But until it is, we have to get our oil from somewhere. The BP oil spill complicates our national energy dilemma. We don’t need our politicians complicating the solution by playing partisan politics when the people need help—right here, right now. That’s just crazy. Real crazy—like Barton’s statement.
But then the Republicans are crazy and they know exactly what they’re doing.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com