Morning Bell: White House in Disarray

Mike Brownfield /

A fudgelike goo coating Louisiana’s marshes. A thick oil slick stretching across the Gulf of Mexico. A plume of oil miles below the ocean surface. A tragic loss of life. Reverberating economic consequences. Throw in a poll that shows that 53 percent of Americans rate President Barack Obama “poor” or “very poor” in his handling of the Gulf oil spill, and it’s no wonder the President yesterday broke his 308-day self-imposed press conference moratorium in hopes of conveying some semblance of leadership amid an environmental, economic and human catastrophe that has spiraled out of his control.

But if Americans were looking for signs of leadership from their President yesterday, they were disappointed. What they got from President Obama was a glimpse of a White House in total disarray, where one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing and where there are more questions than answers. At 12:45 PM EDT yesterday, President Obama stood before the country and did his best to convey one clear message regarding the oil spill – the federal government is in control and that he will hold BP to account.¬†Obama said:

The American people should know 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.

Unfortunately for the President, he couldn’t maintain that message for the duration of his 63-minute press conference. When it came time to questions, he admitted that the federal government just doesn’t have what it takes to keep the oil spill under control. (more…)