June 10th, 2010
By Daniel Henninger, WSJ
BP Oil spill is challenging Obama’s competence
Two historic events happened in the Gulf of Mexico this spring: Unimaginable amounts of accidental oil rose from a hole one mile below the water’s surface. Bigger than that, the federal government was exposed as the Wizard of Oz, unable to do anything about it.
In the movie, Dorothy and her friends in Oz admit the Wizard’s limits. Not here. After a century of faith in the government’s omnipotence, the discipleship can’t believe this is happening.
As the oil gushed—with the perpetrator a flailing private corporation—the American left popped a gasket. James Carville thundered for presidential “control.” Spike Lee demanded that Mr. Obama “go off.” The left instead went off on Mr. Obama for not ordering his bureaucracies to make the oil recede. Then this week, like Will Ferrell in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, the president himself said he was looking for “ass to kick.” Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
This may well be Obama’s Katrina, but presidencies come and go. The more lasting lesson of the Gulf fiasco is to discover how belief in the omnipotence of government had risen to the level of mysticism for so many, and not just on the left. Some conservatives joined the do-something chorus to “stop” oil gushing with hellish force from deep inside the earth’s core. (Set aside for now the interesting matter of just how vast the reserves of oil actually are down there.)