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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

White House is feeling weight of controversies surrounding oil spill.

Washington DC, Friday, June 4, 2010

At virtually every turn lately, the White House cannot shake the appearance that it is hamstrung and a step behind. From a major crisis such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to smaller and seemingly avoidable controversies over internal Democratic Party politics, President Obama and his team are on the defensive.

The question many Republicans and even some Democratic allies of the administration are asking is whether the collective weight of all these problems will diminish the president’s ability to get his agenda through Congress, or further weaken his party before the November midterm elections.

That all this has happened to a White House staffed by the team that so successfully navigated the 2008 presidential campaign is a source of surprise and consternation for Democrats. The missteps have also become easy ammunition for Republicans seeking to capitalize on what may be self-inflicted wounds.

Defenders of the administration argue that there was nothing the White House could have done early on to stop the oil that has been gushing from the well in the gulf.

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Then Comes the information: “President Obama has once again postponed his trip to Indonesia and Australia, telephoning the leaders of the two countries late Thursday night,” the White House said.

It is the second time the trip has been canceled. It was originally planned for March but was put off because the president wanted to be in Washington for a critical health-care vote in Congress.

Now, the president needs to stay in Washington to oversee the worsening environmental crisis from the oil spill off the Gulf Coast, making a seven-day venture oversees impractical and politically problematic.

Obama had been scheduled to leave June 13 and stay abroad for a week, spending time in Indonesia, Guam and Australia. There was no indication in the statement about when he might try again.

“President Obama spoke tonight with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia, and with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia,” press secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement sent out just before midnight. “President Obama expressed his deep regret that he has to postpone his trip to Asia that was scheduled for later this month. The President looked forward to rescheduling so that he can visit both countries soon.”

The statement continued: “President Obama underscored his commitment to our close alliance with Australia and our deepening partnership with Indonesia. He plans to hold full bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Rudd and President Yudhoyono on the margins of the G-20 meeting in Canada” in late June.

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But we think that not going on that trip these days is a major mistake. We believe that there is a tremendous opportunity that the President is missing and we wrote about it in our posting:  www.sustainabilitank.info/categor…

An oil drilling accident offshore Brunei in 1979 caused a mud volcano which took nearly 30 years and 20 relief wells to stop. The Sidoarjo, East Java, Indonesia, PT Lapindo Bratas gas exploration resulted in an on land mud volcano, May 29, 2006, when it wiped out four villages. It is still an ongoing disaster. Louisiana and Washington DC beware: The real model against which the BP Deepwater blowout should be compared are THE MUD VOLCANOES and the time frame is very serious. Why not establish a School for Government and Industry LEARNING responsibility in Sidoajo, Indonesia, an area suggested for TOURISM by President Yudhoyono ?

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 26th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at SustainabiliTank.com)

President Obama could have made it his point to visit the Sidoajo MUD VOLCANO and explain the perils of drilling for oil.

In Sidoajo, on ground, not under 5,000 feet of water, there is to be seen a still active blow-out of gas that has wiped out four villages. He could have spoken from there to the people of the United States and explain the perils of geoengineering in search of oil. Indonesia would have cooperated – President Yudhoyono wants to turn the place as a site for educational eco-tourism.

There are also other reasons for the originally planned trip. There are important questions about the US leadership in international institutions like the UN and on climate at the UNFCCC. There is an aspiring UN Secretary-General in Australia – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – and much interest in Climate in both countries. There is also interest in Guam at a time the US might have to reconsider its military installations in the region, but the opportunity to address the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, while standing next to that Mud Volcano, was like heaven sent in order to extricate himself from the Washington Furies.

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The following shows how mindless Republican legislators can be – at this stage, without exhonorating Obama from having failed to clean up Washington from the Republican remnants in the bureaucracy, we are clearly pointing fingers at that anti-Americanism Republican style.

see from the following:

“For the past several weeks, much of the debate in the capital has centered on whether the President and his team reacted quickly enough to the threat of the oil gushing from the bottom of the ocean floor.”

And what are they saying? Had the alarm bells sounded earlier, could anyone have done anything?

Is it not true that years of submission to oil industry dictates over Washington have rendered the country helpless? Is there anything short of “Drill Baby Drill!” that propels the Republican onslaught on Obama these days? The idea is to be allowed to drill in shallow water and on land in order to avoid similar spills in the future – this is nothing short of holding the revolver at whatever heads there are still in existence in that town.

West Wing briefing

Congressional Republicans seize on oil spill crisis to attack Obama

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 4, 2010; 9:26 AM

As President Obama heads to the Gulf Friday for his third oil-spill visit, his most ardent critics back in Washington will be stirring up trouble.

From their perch in Congress, members of the opposing party have seized on the oil spill crisis as a way to hammer Obama politically, moving aggressively to question the president’s response to the environmental disaster.

The most recent salvo came late Thursday night, as Rep. Darrell Issa of California provided copies of Coast Guard logs to the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to investigative journalism. The center used the information in the logs — and a damning quote from Issa — to post a story on its Web site: “Coast Guard Logs Show Feds Understood Oil Spill Threat Within Hours of Explosion.”

The story suggests that the Coast Guard had reason to believe the environmental damage could be massive almost from the start.

(Photos of the Gulf oil spill’s animal victims)

“Potential environmental threat is 700,000 gallons of diesel on board the Deepwater Horizon and estimated potential of 8,000 barrels per day of crude oil, if the well were to completely blowout,” the center quotes one of the logs from the Coast Guard as saying on April 21, less than a day after the accident.

The center notes the difference between the logs and the official White House timeline, which provided far less of a sense of the looming environmental threat until several days later.

Why is that important?

Crises often prompt investigations and recriminations in Washington. And once-secret documents are typically the thing that drives the conversation along, providing members of one party the ammunition to criticize the other.

For the past several weeks, much of the debate in the capital has centered on whether the president and his team reacted quickly enough to the threat of the oil gushing from the bottom of the ocean floor.

White House officials have consistently said the president made the accident his No. 1 priority, and the center quoted a spokesman as telling the New York Times Thursday night that the official White House timeline had a disclaimer at the bottom that it did not reflect everything that was being done.

Republicans seemed poised to leap on the logs as evidence that the White House moved too slowly, at least at the beginning. Issa told the center that “Americans have a right to be outraged by this spill, by top government officials caught off-guard, and by the facts the White House omitted in explaining what it knew and when it knew it.”

But Issa is regarded in Washington as an automatic anti-Obama quote, and the fact that the documents come from him could undermine their impact.

And the other news out of the Gulf appeared to be getting better, not worse, as engineers successfully cut off a piece of the broken equipment and were preparing to try and cap the oil leak so that the crude could be sucked up to the surface.

If those efforts succeed — and there have been a lot of failures so far — the president will likely benefit from the positive developments.

On the other hand, the cleanup of the Gulf is going to take a long time, perhaps years, as White House press secretary Robert Gibbs suggested Thursday. That means there will be plenty of time for questions about who knew what, when.

Expect the Republicans to continue to ask them.

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