Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Who has the better plan for the oil spill: Obama or Palin?

Those who haven't been distracted by constantly blasting vuvuzelas at the World Cup might have noticed that President Obama gave a speech tonight about the BP oil disaster (on the ever-so-timely Day 57 of the crisis).  The speech started okay (see the transcript here), I suppose, but as it went on, two themes seemed to be clear in the president's message:  1)  you, the American people, need more government; and 2) you, the American people, are going to pay through the nose.  (I suppose there could be a third theme of "BP is evil" in there, too.)

The "more government" idea was hit hard and often, starting with tomorrow's planned meeting with BP's chairman (who does have a name, according to BP's Wikipedia entry but not according to President Obama's speech...perhaps it's easier to demonize people without names, or something) to "inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate" pretty much everyone involved, and that this fund would be "administered by an independent, third party."  Now, did I miss the provision in Article II of the Constitution allowing him to do this, particularly to an international (BP, for the uninformed, originally stood for "British Petroleum") corporation?  But then again, the president has named "czars" for everything else under the sun, so why should we think he would have anything other than a bureaucracy to handle this situation?

(Aside:  there are a lot of czars, aren't there?  You could say there were enough to fill up a clown car.  And then, if there were someone to oversee that, he could be the Clown Car Czar.  But I digress.)

And, of course, President Obama could not let this occasion go by without pressing for a comprehensive energy bill (which, from the name, sounds innocuous enough, but there's nothing about the current Congress that makes me trust that it will be in practice).

All in all, the push for more government, when obviously the one we have has not been doing its job terribly well to begin with, does not appeal to me (which should come as a surprise to exactly none of my regular readers).  But what really irks me about this speech in particular is this portion:

Now, there are costs associated with this transition. And some believe we can't afford those costs right now. I say we can't afford not to change how we produce and use energy - because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.

Yeah, you bet there'll be costs.  What was the estimate I saw previously that I'm not going to look up right now because I want to finish this before midnight...utility bills under one proposed cap-and-trade bill would go up, on average, something like 57%.  That's what we need during a recession, isn't it?  But President Obama speaks to that issue, in a roundabout way:

This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again.

Just as soon as utility rates go up and the Bush tax cuts all expire.  (The tax cuts presently expire in just over six months...Merry Christmas, y'all!)

Really, the whole speech, which was criticized by even such people as Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, deserves a good solid fisking.  From someone else.

Because the reaction I want to talk about briefly is that of Sarah Palin, who has had quite a bit of experience in dealing with the oil industry (whereas President Obama can possibly see an Amoco station from his house).  As might be expected, she wasn't thrilled with tonight's speech, and thanks to the good folks at PalinTV, here is her appearance on The O'Reilly Factor just moments after the speech had ended:

The Right Scoop has lots of good things to say about Governor Palin's segment that is too good not to steal, er, borrow, er, quote:

Palin told O’Reilly that we can’t just get rid of oil, but we need to develop all three legs of the stool – conventional, renewable, and conservation. She then chided Obama for not understanding the linkage between our energy and national security.

Like it or not--and obviously the president and many, many others don't--oil and other fossil fuels are not going anywhere in the near future.  To state a goal of moving predominantly toward renewable resources is well and good, but regardless of the amount of money we throw at it (and it's gonna be a lot, if some people get their way), we cannot turn the basis of our society on a dime away from oil and coal, and the pie-in-the-sky mentality I saw tonight is not what we need from our president.  The practical, pragmatic approach from Mrs. Palin is what I would very much prefer to see.