Oyster deftly disects the anatomy of modern day Presidential reponse to disaster. Hint: the talking points always include the terms "unprecedented" and a promise to do "whatever it takes."
If Obama doesn't want the Macondo Oil Gusher to become his Katrina/Federal Flood moment, he's going to need to throw away George W. Bush's script in a damn hurry.
But the Macondo is on pace to overtake the Exxon Valdez spill in the race of my-natural-disaster-is-worse-than-yours oversimplifications, and this is becoming a problem. You see, the media so underestimate the average American's ability to conceptulaize multifaceted environmental catastrophes individually, they have to draw comparisons. The Exxon Valdez spill is apparently what media types consider America's benchmark for environmental catastrophe, even though it was a remote catastrophe that affected a sparsely populated state.
This one is going to be very different in terms of damage and exposure. Teeming millions of tourists don't visit the pristine beaches of Valdez, Alaska. But they do go to Florida. Wait till these folks get to the oil-soaked beaches of Panama City and Destin, unable to purchase their favorite tartar-sauce-flavored fried whitefish for under $30 an entree while awash in the stench of dead and rotting sea-life. I'd reckon we're going to find another benchmark in a hurry.
But as this begins to dawn on the narrative-writers, what is said on radio and written on blogs will have to change. Oyster has noticed that the folks over at Redstate are already in the process of moving the goalposts. This is an important part of the dismissal of catastrophe process, the unlearning of lessons necessary for society to progress.
Don't compare this spill to the Exxon Valdez, goes the thesis, compare it to the 1991 Gulf War. Compared to that episode of state-sponsored, scorched-earth, munition-driven environmental terrorism, the Macondo business is just a drop in the bucket.
Maybe not "not-one-drop," but only a few, a "paltry" sum if you're comparing apples to the sappers of defeated, retreating armies. And an accident to boot, because, as we know, shit happens. This is really the fault of liberals, anyway, who drive SUV's and live in large houses.
Be careful not to learn the wrong lessons from that post. Important ones exist.
The Macondo/Gulf War I comparison is not that these are comparable incidents, but that it is direct evidence that such an event is not "unprecedented." Our nation has seen this before, during a time of war in which we were the major participant, close to where the shooting took place. It ain't like this is some new curveball that took everyone by surprise. I'm sure there are people alive today who remember 1991, just like there are people who remember 1989. Unlike what BP has said, the Macondo is not "inconcievable." Far from it.
Also unstated at Redstate is the more important lesson: environmental catastrophes of this nature can never, ever be underestimated or marginalized. Because, despite early reports that the Persian Gulf was recovering quickly, we're still trying to clean up Kuwait.
19 years later.
Update: Intriguing national narrative roundup from the Daily Dish. If there is any demographic as out of touch with reality as politicians, it is the media.
Seriously, the left is willing to completely overlook similarities between the responses to the hurricane/flood and the responses to the oil, the right drags out their tired meme that only Blanco and Nagin failed in response to Katrina/Federal Flood. The rest of them spend more time breathlessly talking about possible future policy ramifications rather than what went wrong, how to fix it, where to pitch in, and how to stop it from happening again. Instead of reporting on what happens in the land of make believe that exists in your editor's head, why don't y'all send some reporters out to, I don't know, report on the event?
Do we have any common history left at this point?
Because only in a world where we ignore fact-based history are any of these events "unprecedented." Maybe that explains the whole damn thing.
My favorite thus far is the guy who's actually got the balls to defend the "drill, baby, drill" meme as a meme, and tell those of us juxtaposing that dangerous oversimplification that we are oversimplifying.
We may not have known much about the oil industry and energy policy, but we already knew it was waay more complex and dangerous than "drill, baby, drill." That's why we didn't like it then, and we don't like it now.
And I'm about at the end of my rope with the "shit happens" explanation for all this.
If shit happens (and we all know it does), don't dismiss, marginalize and mock individuals who try to tell you that shit can happen, shit has happened, shit does happen, and when shit will happen, you'd better have a Fing plan ready to go RTFN.
And there is an easy way to figure out who was part of the crowd who thought they could dismiss, marginalize and mock their way to an energy policy: they were the assholes chanting "drill, baby, drill."