A White House increasingly known for annoying the press by ruthlessly controlling its message had better start paying more attention to the message itself. We now have the worst oil spill in the history of the nation, but Obama is sitting in Washington, preparing for the White House Correspondents Dinner tonight. He's going to show up at the Washington elite's annual exercise in frivolity — its very own prom — and make humorous remarks while seabirds and fishing grounds are coated with oil.
In this morning's New York Times, Martha Kumar, a Towson University political scientist who is an expert on the relationship between the presidency and the press, makes the following observation about the mistake the White House makes by allowing the president to be seen yucking-it-up in Washington while the oil slick spreads:
There you are in Washington with celebrities and the media while
wildlife and fishermen are doused in oil? That’s not going to do much
for the White House or for the press, for that matter.
Shades of Katrina? I thought Obama, Axelrod, and Emanuel were supposed to be smart enough to avoid pitfalls of this sort. Guess not. It's not enough that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is on the scene. Obama should be, too. As this catastrophe worsens, the White House will wish it had put the president out there, demonstrating some concern.
Meanwhile, this environmental disaster should push the Obama Administration to turn away from its recent embrace of offshore drilling, not just pause new leases. But there's no reason to expect our politicians to do the right thing when it comes to the environment. They're all cowards. Mother Nature doesn't vote or make PAC contributions the way corporate America does.