The White House accepted full responsibility for a Gulf cleanup yesterday, but there was no outcry about the government takeover. Congressional Republicans were busy trying to repeal health care with marchers on Capitol Hill shouting "Kill the bill."
"The American people should know," the President said, "that from the moment this disaster began, the federal government has been in charge of the response effort...BP is operating at our direction. Every key decision and action they take must be approved by us in advance."
In the oil spill, Tea Party protests over too much government have given way to GOP complaints about too little. Even Karl Rove, finally allowing that George W. Bush's hurricane response may have been a bit lackadaisical, now opines, "Mr. Obama's failure to lead in cleaning up the spill could lead voters to echo his complaint in Katrina's aftermath: 'I wish that the federal government had been up to the task.'"
Rove's Rupert Murdoch comrade-in-arms Peggy Noonan echoes this criticism, seeing a metaphor in the image of gushing oil for the flow of anguish from Americans over presidential indifference to their worries about immigration and health care reform.
After being bashed for trying to do too much, in this latest Republican gotcha, Barack Obama is now being assailed for doing too little, too slowly or in the wrong way. Unlike his predecessor, the President admitted mistakes yesterday while vowing to do everything humanly possible to minimize the mess caused by free-market zeal and too little government oversight.
But in a political climate seething with hate and resentment, such an approach is sure to be seen as not enough. A conservative National Review blogger, citing "unreasonable expectations of government," puts it well:
"The fact is, accidents (not to mention storms) happen. We can work to prepare for them, we can have various preventive rules and measures in place. We can build the capacity for response and recovery in advance. But these things happen, and sometimes they happen on a scale that is just too great to be easily addressed. It is totally unreasonable to expect the government to be able to easily address them—and the kind of government that would be capable of that is not the kind of government that we should want."
Tell that to Tea Party blowhards and their enablers as they purge Republicans for being the least bit bipartisan in bailouts for man-made as well as natural disasters.