May 27th, 2010
01:38 PM ET

Gulf oil spill: The blame game widens

As patience runs low and pressure mounts for a federal takeover of the the Gulf Coast oil spill response, the finger pointing is spreading further and wider. We look at who’s getting the flak from commentators and editorials.

Who’s to blame: President Obama?
Being commander in chief, to some, means President Obama should also be chief blame-taker. Many, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, accuse him and his administration of not properly responding to the oil spill. A story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune highlights how some say Obama needs to take charge.

"Where is the President? Does he not understand the magnitude of what is probably the worst environmental disaster in the country? And then we get mixed messages from his various Cabinet secretaries who come down and they say, looks like they are satisfied with the coordination going on," said Rep. Steve Scalise in remarks on the House floor Tuesday just around the time the White House was letting it be known that the president would be visiting the Gulf on Friday.

Glenn Greenwald, a former constitutional lawyer and a columnist at Salon.com, writes in the New York Times that when something goes wrong, presidents become an easy target.

[They get] blamed for “allowing it to happen,” even if there was nothing they could have done to prevent it and nothing they can do to fix it. As more and more Americans come to understand the true magnitude of the oil spill disaster, it will matter little that President Obama was not at fault.

Far more significant will be the perception that he failed to “protect” us from this threat, a potentially devastating belief in a society where “protecting us from harm” has come to be seen as the president’s overarching responsibility (far higher than what the Constitution actually describes as the prime presidential duty: “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution”).

Put simply, unless the oil spill is brought under control quickly, Obama as the holder of centralized political power is likely to be blamed for these failures whether or not that blame is fair.

Time magazine columnist Joe Klein also writes:

Obama is not blameless. A month before the spill, he insinuated himself into the "Drill, baby, drill" camp by agreeing to a deal, first proposed by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, in which offshore drilling and nuclear power would be added to legislation taxing carbon fuels and promoting alternative energy.

Who’s to blame: BP?
BP is getting the most flak for the incident as more evidence points toward how the British-based oil company could have averted the disaster in the first place.

The Times-Picayune pointed out in an editorial that although rig owner Transocean and contractor Halliburton were also responsible for the disaster, now the worst oil spill in U.S. history, rig operator BP ultimately has to shoulder the blame.

But they were working under the direction of BP. And BP executives overruled the contractors in at least one critical decision, involving when to drain the mud fluid needed to keep the well from blowing up. During Wednesday's hearing of the Coast Guard and Minerals Management Service investigation of the explosion, the rig's chief mechanic testified that he was in a planning meeting 11 hours before the explosion at which the BP "company man" overruled the drillers.

In a opinion piece on CNN.com, retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré says the oil spill belongs to BP and no one else.

BP's reaction was much like Toyota's when it was confronted with safety issues. It, too, focused on PR to protect its brand, versus telling the truth, and sent out its engineers to talk about the problem and the fix.

Environmentalists, seafood suppliers and restaurant owners are also channeling their anger toward BP. Two seafood dealers are among at least 13 plaintiffs in a $5 million class action lawsuit that claims businesses were devastated by the spill. The lawsuit blames BP, Halliburton, Cameron Industries and Transocean for the blowout. Halliburton, however, claimed that its work was consistent with normal oilfield practices.

Who’s to blame: Transocean?
BP aside, many also want Transocean to be held accountable. In fact, survivors of the oil rig explosion urged members of a House committee Thursday to hold Transocean and BP accountable for the incident, according to CNN.

Two employees of rig owner Transocean, meanwhile, accused the company of putting profits above lives and cutting back on safety and employees leading up to the explosion. When workers complained of needing more help, "They just kept telling us they'd see what they could do," said engineer Doug Brown, 50, of Vancouver, Washington.

Who’s to blame: Former President George W. Bush?
U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, who appeared on Fox Business Network on Tuesday, implied that the root causes for the spill rested on the shoulders of the administration(s) that preceded this one, the LA Times writes. When asked whether the Obama administration should take the blame for the lack of response, Dodd turned the finger to George W. Bush.

"Well, you know, they come into office a year ago with all of this. And so, after the last eight years … to lay this at Obama's doorstep, in light of years and years of regulatory permissiveness when it comes to these kinds of operations occurring - it didn't occur in the last year and a half," Dodd said.

Who’s to blame: Nobody
Taking the middle ground were radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and politician Rand Paul. They blame no one. Limbaugh initially speculated that the spill might have been the doing of environmental terrorist, Time's Klein notes, but later said the ocean would take care of this on its own.

The oil was "natural. It's as natural as the ocean water is."

Rand Paul ... dismissed the disaster with a blithe "accidents happen."

Who’s to blame: Us, drivers?
Canadian newspaper Montreal Gazette said we have to take a slice of the blame pie, too. The logic: If we consumed less oil, there would be less of drilling and less oil spills.

We bought the minivans, SUVs and luxury cars that drank fuel. … [We] forgot the oil crisis and we bought the cars. With our cars, we push the oil companies out into the oceans. Let's take our own share of the blame.

Post by:
Filed under: BP • Gulf Coast Oil Spill
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. VICTOR SOSA

    This BP ( British Petroleum ) thin is outragious. Maybe the British did this to get over for loosing the Revolutionary War with George Washington and Ben Franklin. I think we should send all the Arizona Police to Texas and wherever to round up all these BP people up and check to see if theye are in the U.S. legally. Then have them deported. (LOL)

    May 27, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • john quigley

      absolutely the dumbest and most insensitive thing ive read regarding this tragedy. im Glad u thik its a big joke. if ud like a bigger one. take a look in a mirror

      May 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • J

      In addition to the "company man" from BP overuling the people on the rig who should know what they're talking about, does anyone remember the five oil workers who died in Texas in 2005? The company they worked for never complied with the safety regulations that OSHA told them to follow, and OSHA later levied the biggest fine in the history of its existence, $87 million dollars. Guess who? BP North America. Is anybody paying attention? Does anybody care? Anywhere?

      May 27, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not Funny

      John Quigley is right! You think this is a joke??? What's wrong with you!?!? This is serious! And, by the way, enough about all this Arizona "Racist" garbage. People get asked to identify themselves EVERYDAY. Whether it's being asked for your license to prove your age, or your social security number to check your credit, or your Birth Certificate to get your passport... It's only a problem when it comes to Immigration, right? Instead of being outraged over NOTHING, why don't you be a MAN, ACT like the American that you ARE, and show some darn concern for the people that lost their lives in this accident, and, I don't know, maybe try to HELP in some way with the Oil Clean-up!?! I mean, get life, brother!

      May 28, 2010 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • runswithbeer

      This Obama bashing on the spill will absolutely backfire on the Republicans in the fall elections. Everyone in America knows who is to blame and why.

      May 28, 2010 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Texas_Citizen

      The BP people are legal it's just Mexicans that are unable to follow the laws.

      May 30, 2010 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • BradF

      What's wrong with CNN? why haven't you reported that this EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED ALREADY! This is a REPEAT INCIDENT in the Gulf. Same cause as the 1979 Ixtoc, and shamefully, the same failed attempts. This wasn't new to BP and Transocean. They WENT THROUGH THIS BEFORE. Seriously, how can we take the President seriously when he says "we want to ensure this doesn't happen again"? You cant continue to use the same systems and be surprised when it DOES happen again.

      June 8, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tom Degan

    Why would Rand Paul go on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC program earlier this week and imply that he would not have supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had he been there to vote on it. Did he really believe that there would be any possible political gain by doing something as reckless and as silly as that?

    The answer is – Yes he did – and here's the really sad part: He was probably correct to believe there would be a substantial political payoff in the long run for making such an egregiously ignorant remark. Just take a look around you....

    The political landscape of this once-great nation is more tarnished than at any time in the last half century. The right wing media, with FOX Noise in the lead, has created from scratch an industry whose whole purpose is to mine racial fears against the first African American president in American history. For many years – right up until the moment Barack Obama took the oath of office – racism in America was, for the most part, covert. On January 20, 2009 it became – in too many corners of this country to count – overt. It is all around us and is being encouraged.

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY

    May 27, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • john quigley

      what the hell does that have to do with the gulf oil spill. get it together

      May 27, 2010 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. frank

    there is to much money to be made from oil for the oil companies to really care about the environment. they were negligent when they first started drilling holes in the ocean.man is basically an idiot and when you start adding large amounts of money he becomes a moron.eg buisness religion etc

    May 27, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. erica

    Frank, I agree. I think every American has to take a long hard look at themselves and decide what is important-the luxuries and modern day convienences that are fleeting and most often frivolous or being able to protect our environment, animal and plantlife which is all we will really be left with in the end anyway.

    May 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. john quigley

    do what it takes to fix it. this is crazy i dont care whose falt it is or how much it costs. fix it now

    May 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. john quigley

    look at your modern day conviences. your pc your mac your ipod the milk containers your cell phones. everything u own is byproductof petroleum. GOOD LUCK on that one

    May 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Damião Carlos

    Thank you all readers from this blog, thank so much for your help advance to visit my website blog, it is about English tips in order to provide students to improve their English skills http://www.englishtips-self-taught.blogspot.com

    May 27, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gil

    This is just horrific to watch. The worst environmental tragedy in US history. I just released a song about it and am offering it for free download. The song expresses the frustration I feel every day this goes on.
    I'm in talks with Global Green USA about donating the song to the Gulf Coast relief effort they are raising funds for.

    http://gilsmusic.bandcamp.com/track/drill-baby-drill

    May 27, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. chad

    this has nothing to do with modern day conveniences, or the purposes of oil. Everyone of of us use these products everyday. This tragedy has nothing to do with our demand. It has everything to do with greed. The american legislations towards offshore oil wells, and the ineptness of BP to recognize the problem before it happened it to blame. You cant blame Obama. He didnt blow the bloody thing up. You want him onsite to start the clean up. He is not a professional in this matter. I agree he could have put his forces in there to clean up, and to provide help. But BP is responsible for this. As much as it seems bad that they took 40 days to stop the leak. They didnt have any other choices. They could have rushed into it and created a much bigger problem. Blame them for not containing the spill. I cant believe that nobody is out there skimming the waters or doing any clean up. This is horrible. Maybe we should blame everyone for not helping out. You are spending more time trying to blame someone for the issue rather than cleaning it up. Use your heads......

    May 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Chad, I concur with to what you've stated. Why aren't Shell Oil, ExxonMobile, Citco, & the rest offering their skimmers, and other equipment to help out the folks in the Gulf. This accident could have very well occurred with one of their rigs populating the Gulf coast!!! Send the bill to BP, if you want to!!! Yes, as private citizens, we should probably be offering our help to go down there & help shovel up some of those oil balls off the beaches (bring your own mask & other protective gear, however), wash the pelicans & other animal life to hopefully save them. I worry about those workers breathing in those toxic fumes!!! Also, President Obama should (1) have Americorp volunteers (college student volunteers, etc without jobs) go down & help with college tuition offsets from the Feds; (2) let FEMA handle the application processing for those fishermen & other businesses, governments impacted & hand the bill to not only BP, but Halliburton & the other rig owner partner(s), et al. Perhaps, FEMA can redeem themselves in this disaster. Let the Feds handle the court actions against these criminals, instead of the States, Local governments, fishermen & other businesses.

      Sarah

      June 8, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RonJohn

    DON'T LET BP CUT THE PIPE ABOVE THE BLOW OUT PREVENTER (AMERICA WILL BE DOOMED)! INSTEAD, CRIMP THE PIPE LIKE BENDING A DRINKING STRAW IN SEVERAL PLACES(AFTER THE BOP BUT BEFORE THE FIRST LEAK!!!!!! ALSO, THE MUD/CONCRETE SLURRY WON'T WORK BECAUSE THE FLOW VELOCITY (SPEED) OF THE MIXTURE IS TOO FAST OUT OF THE LEAKS TO SET UP AND HARDEN! I HAVE A CRIMP DESIGN THAT WILL WORK!:: PICTURE A BOX THAT IS CLAMPED TO THE PIPE AND INSIDE THIS BOX IS A PINCHPOINT GATE VALVE THAT BENDS/CRIMPS THE PIPE CLOSED. DO THIS IN SEVERAL LOCATIONS. ASKS YOURSELF, WHEN WILL THEY RUN OUT OF MUD AND CAN CONCRETE REALLY SETUP IN A FRACTION OF A SECOND IF ITS FLOWING?? BP IS RUN MY IDIOTS WHO REFUSE TO HIRE TALENTED PEOPLE!!!! AMERICA IS FULL OF COMPANIES LIKE THIS AND IS RUN BY TOO MANY ACCOUNTANTS IN TECHNICAL POSITIONS!! THEY CAN ONLY COVER-UP ISSUES BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT TECHNICAL ENOUGH TO SOLVE PROBLEMS!!! I CAN NAME A FEW OTHERS COMPANIES!

    May 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike Kelley

    I don't think crimping the pipe would work. It would be better to use the same high pressure connection they are using now to pump in drilling mud and instead vacuum the oil. Believe me, if they had the capacity to back the oil down the well they would have the capacity to vacuum it out from that connection. Numerous "experts" interviewed on CNN today have suggested there are positive indications with the "topkill". However, the only way topkill is working at all, such as pushing the oil down the well, would be if there was no oil emerging from the leak. All the experts claim there is mud mixed with the oil. That indicates the oil is not being down the well. Also, in order to do that BP would have to be pushing more mud down to the wellhead than was spewing from the broken pipes and at a greater pressure. Figure it for yourself. I doubt that BP is pushing down 15000 barrels of mud a day or could generate that much. And they know exactly how much they have pushed down. Why on earth are they simply not pumping up from the pressure connection they have for pumping the mud and in effect vacuuming the oil from the well. That would likely pull near 100% of the leak. Then they could focus on trying to cut the riser pipe and cap it at an undamaged cross section.
    The "topkill" is simply not working and not going to.

    May 27, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. P.Rodriguez

    BP, Halliburton and Transocean work with oil fields then they should have the highest most advaced technologies in case of an oil spill – they do not have this. So, these companies are completely incompetent when it comes to oil digging, they might be competent enough to talk their way into business deals, but that's about it. The three should pay and close the companies. Which country will want to hire them again for oil digging??
    Certainly not the US and the rest of the Gulf of Mexico countries.

    May 28, 2010 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. David Foster

    Simplicity – Set two huge ankors on either side of the leak, attach chains with a winch from one ankor to the other, have the chains go right over the leak, weld a curved steel plate to the chains right over the leak, attach a thick flexible fabric material to the steel plate – winch the assembly down pulling the steel backed fabric down over the leak.

    May 29, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JR Justice

    Why does EVERYONE INVOLVED appear intent on sealing the pipe at the cut? Why not put a HUGE container over the sight with large 20" pipe, or several going up to the surface into tankers?? There's a 100 scenarios to totally CONTAIN the oil VS allowing it to free flow. STOP TRYING TO CAPTURE & START CONTAINMENT, SO WE CAN BEGIN TO CLEAN UP THIS MESS. WAKE THE HECK UP PEOPLE!!!

    June 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mike

    The goverment should have had better regulations in place. They should have never had the minerals management service overseeing offshore drilling rigs. Obviously they didn't know how to do thier job. Thats why the person in charge quit once this happened. They need to shift responsibility to a part of the government that has greater regulatory ability. Possibly the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. I havent seen them in the news lately. That is usually a good thing. This may be a difficult task as it seems everyone in charge of anything ran by the government is trying to shift responsibility onto someone else.

    June 8, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
1 2