The following appeared in the May 3, 2010, edition of The Christian Science Monitor. SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.
May 6, 2010
By Linda Feldmann
Washington — The Obama administration ratcheted up its rhetoric Monday on the unfolding environmental and economic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the failed N.Y.C. bomb plot.
On the massive BP oil spill, triggered by an oil-rig explosion nearly two weeks ago, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs endorsed the language of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who had used graphic tough-guy imagery in talk-show appearances Sunday. “Our job basically is to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum,” Secretary Salazar said, citing the company that leased the rig.
President Obama also dramatically ramped up his rhetoric and personal oversight on the disaster Sunday, with a hastily arranged visit to the Gulf Coast and language aimed at showing he “gets it” about the magnitude of the crisis. Mr. Obama called the spill “a massive and potentially unprecedented disaster.”
On Monday, Mr. Gibbs also described the foiled attack Saturday in Times Square as terrorism – after other administration officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, had declined to make that assertion. By Monday afternoon, news reports cited unnamed administration officials as saying that it increasingly appears that the failed bombing was a multiperson plot with international ties. . .
For Obama, “it’s a no-win situation,” says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, speaking of the Gulf oil slick. Obama doesn’t want to look like Chicken Little, racing to the scene of every brewing potential disaster, he says. But “if he goes late, even if for a good reason, he winds up getting criticized.”
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