While oil flows into the gulf, Democrats have seized the opportunity to attack Republicans over Rep. Joe Barton’s so-called “gaffe” with a series of new attack ads. They ask Republicans to “stop apologizing to Big Oil.”
Even if his comments were politically clumsy, Rep. Joe Barton hit the philosophical nail on the head. The United States is supposedly a nation of laws. Seizing a crisis as an opportunity to extort $20,000,000,000 from a business has no place in such a nation. Democrats retort that BP’s actions were voluntary. They “chose” to establish this fund. But how much of a choice is it when the Vice President leans in and tells them, “if they didn’t do the right thing and put the cash in escrow, it would be done to them.” Some choice.
While Barton’s comments might not receive such sympathy from the general population or Gulf coast residents, Obama has already worn out this card. To be kind, the President hasn’t exactly been prompt in his response, nor has he allowed it to interrupt his personal plans or leisure time. Americans have taken notice, particularly in Louisiana. Liberal pollsters at Public Policy Polling recently found a majority of Louisiana voters give George W. Bush better marks for his response to Katrina. The two aren’t even close. Bush swept the question by a margin of 15 points.
Obama, whose approval rating has dropped to 45%, is featured prominently in the ad. How does it look when Gulf coast voters who don’t follow politics every day find out Obama has received $20,000,000,000 and still hasn’t managed anything more than photo ops and inflammatory rhetoric? Contrary to liberal belief, just because Obama yanked control over the purse strings from the judicial system doesn’t mean anyone has been paid. Of course, now that Obama is the monetary gatekeeper, frustrated claimants will blame him instead of BP. Then there’s his ridiculous moratorium on drilling. Despite the Spill, 77% of Louisiana voters continue to support offshore drilling. Only 12% oppose. Killing thousands of jobs with the stroke of a pen isn’t likely to win Obama or the Democrats many supporters in this economy.
Finally, we arrive at the biggest flaw with this ad: Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, appears to be the only politician taking any action to stop the flow of oil and prevent further damage. He’d be making more progress if the current administration would stay out of his way. Where Obama refused to allow foreign assistance to help clean up, Jindal has ordered the National Guard to begin building a giant wall of sand to protect the marshes. He ordered the oil skimmers to get out of the port and start skimming, but the administration stymied that plan because they needed to be sure the vessels had enough life jackets.
In the end, this ad is just more words from Democrats while Republicans act to contain the crisis in the Gulf. So go ahead, attack Joe Barton. At best, this ad does nothing for the Democrats’ cause. At worst, Joe Barton becomes a political casualty for defending the rule of law.