The oil spill is NOT “Obama’s Katrina”

I have a new post up at Global Comment

image Oil has been flowing into the gulf for over a month now and it seems that a resolution continues to remain just out of reach. The disaster is now openly being compared to Hurricane Katrina – and while both of these events have caused a tremendous amount of damage, they are vastly different. In an effort to assign blame, politicians as well as the public have lashed out in anger at the Obama administration. The president has answered his critics in a recent press conference by stating that, “I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down.” This statement is in line with his pledge to increase accountability and transparency in U.S. government.

It was not Obama who made the mantra “Drill, baby, drill” a household refrain. Sarah Palin trumpeted those words on the election trail during her failed bid to become vice-president. According to Time Magazine, Palin has now changed her line of attack by accusing Obama of being in bed with Big Oil. This is quite ironic, considering the Republican Party’s long involvement with oil — George Bush’s work with many failed companies and most notably, Cheney and Haliburton.

Rather than a display of real sorrow for the environment that is being destroyed, the concern of the Republican Party reads more like political posturing. The Republican Party chose to ignore the suffering of impoverished Blacks in the wake of Katina, and it now fails to offer concrete solutions to bring an end to the worst man-made environmental destruction on U.S. soil.

Before the oil spill disaster, Obama planned to open the U.S. Atlantic coast to offshore drilling for the first time in more than two decades. He did, however, cancel a planned lease sale in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, because it is considered too environmentally sensitive, and he delayed two others. Unlike the Bush administration, which originally planned the sales in Beaufort and Chukchi seas, the potential environmental damage was at the forefront of the decision. Proving once again that the environment is of primary concern, Obama extended a moratorium on new offshore oil drilling by six months in the wake of BP’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. “Drill, baby, drill,” has never been a part of the Obama lexicon because the president understands that there are consequences to each action.

Hurricane Katrina stands as evidence of the ways in which the Bush administration privileged big business over people and thus remains a symbol of ignorance, incompetence and neglect in the American consciousness. Katrina was anticipated by top government officials and yet nothing was done to prepare the citizens for the onslaught that they would face. Shortly after the hurricane, a video surfaced showing Bush attending a top-level meeting in which he did not ask a single question. The population of New Orleans pre Katrina was predominately Black, and Bush’s reaction to the fell in line with his response to the murder of James Byrd, once again proving that Black lives meant nothing to him.

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