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May 27, 2010

"Top Kill" Seems To Be Working In Gulf Oil Spill

Clearly it's part of a conspiracy so that Obama can take credit during his news conference this afternoon.

Not a completely done deal yet but looks promising.

Engineers have at least temporarily stopped the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico from a gushing BP well, the federal government's top oil-spill commander, U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said Thursday morning.

The "top kill" effort, launched Wednesday afternoon by industry and government engineers, had pumped enough drilling fluid to block oil and gas spewing from the well, Allen said. The pressure from the well was very low, he said, but persisting. The top kill effort is not complete, officials caution.

Once engineers had reduced the well pressure to zero, they were to begin pumping cement into the hole to entomb the well. To help in that effort, he said, engineers also were pumping some debris into the blowout preventer at the top of the well.

Meanwhile, the Obama appointed director of the Minerals Management Service gets tossed under the bus.

Obama has a press conference scheduled for I think 12:45 eastern. He's going to try and pretend he's been all over this from the start. Most people, including some Democrats, aren't buying it.

“There are times and places where his cool, technocratic mastery is a great blessing. ... But, ideology aside, what do you think [President Ronald] Reagan would have done in this situation? He’d be down there. Look at [Louisiana Gov. Bobby] Jindal. ... It is puzzling, the detachment,” said one veteran Democratic strategist, a frequent defender of Obama.

“I just cringe at the specter of the president doing a political fundraiser in San Francisco during the memorial service instead of going to the memorial service,” the person added. “He was sure there for the coal miners in West Virginia; he spoke at their funerals. That juxtaposition can’t be good.”

I'm somewhat conflicted on this. I think in these cases people overestimate the ability of a President to "Do Something".

This is BPs mess and they and others in the industry are best suited to deal with the immediate problem. The best thing the government can do in these cases is get out of the way (in terms of regulations and permit processes) and not overly micro-manage the situation.

Look at the problem Bobby Jindal is having getting permission from the feds to build sand barriers to protect the coastal marshes in his state.

Could a President be energetic in cutting through that kind of red tape? Sure. But does anyone believe that's the kind of energy a true believer in big government like Obama will bring to the table? My default position is, the less Obama does about a given thing, the better off the country is.

As for the politics...I get the need for any President to be seen doing something and honestly I'm not above scoring a few political points. I just think it's dangerous in the long term for conservatives to be seen saying, "Oh my, something terrible happened. Where are the feds? Why aren't the feds doing more?"

Added: Just to be clear, the double standard is as infuriating as it is predictable. Someone on Twitter asked last week when this officially becomes Obama's Katrina. My response was I don't think Katrina was Bush's Katrina but a single standard would be nice.



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posted by DrewM. at 12:30 PM

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