There’s probably not a lot left to be said about the continuing crisis in the Gulf, but please indulge me for a second. It’s obvious that BP is doing everything it can to mitigate its exposure to consequences from the gigantic cluster-fuck, even down to hiring a Cheney flack to handle PR. Robert Reich has made a case for government takeover of BP’s North American operations. While there might be a few problems with this approach, legal and otherwise, I think just a strategy could be a giant nail in coffin of the “Big Government” meme that is the Teabaggers’ raison d’etre.
As far as it goes, the problem is that Obama is between a rock and a hard place in terms of PR. While I don’t think that should be a priority, it is unfortunately a reality in today’s 24-hour media environment. One can imagine the caterwauls of “Socialism” if such a move were made, even as the know-nothings cry about how the government isn’t doing enough. I would hope the media could knock this ridiculous hypcrasy softball out of the park but we all know that ain’t gonna happen. The administration has done everything it can possibly do at this point. Short of the receivership plan posited by Reich, it would just be more strong words from a podium, which plays into Liz Cheney’s slimy hands.
As I mentioned, the unknowns from a government takeover are various but the potential benefits could be enormous. If the government were to step in, direct the containment and clean-up efforts, and just deduct the entire cost from BP’s assets before handing it back over (not to mention that all involved face real criminal prosecution) then maybe Americans might see how government can be effective at directing the free market to work fairly. Which is what is supposed to happen.
Obama has a chance here to step up and put his money where his mouth is. The only way to ensure that corporations, especially Big Oil, do the right thing is to force them, plain and simple. I know this doesn’t exactly address the ongoing problem of what to do about the spill but it sure might be a step closer to justice.
Also, as a side note, does this argument make sense to anybody else besides me? Ship the bastards off in shackles.