Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So Where's the Action?

Here I sit, 43 days into the spill, watching oil gush into the Gulf while BP is on attempt 6 or 7 to "plug the damn hole." Not one of them has worked. This time, they are cutting the damaged pipe off and will attempt some kind of cap. I sincerely hope this one works, but I am skeptical. Oil is just off the Pensacola coast line and already ashore in Alabama as well as the mess in Louisiana.

Last week, Obama journeyed to the Gulf to meet with the folks there. Much positive sounding stuff emerged. That was last week. I am still waiting to see all the action promised by the president. Thus far, that "action" has consisted of a slew of press conferences and trips to the Gulf by almost every member of the administration. Except one.

Last week I noted the absence of the FEMA director on the oil spill. It is FEMA's job to handle this kind of stuff. Nobody in the media has pointed this out yet, which is kind of disturbing. This should be highly visible and emblematic of the lack of real action being taken.

Guess where FEMA Director Craig Fugate was Tuesday? Go ahead. I'll wait.

If you said anywhere even remotely near the Gulf of Mexico, you are wrong. Fugate spent his day at The Weather Channel playing scary hurricane man with Jim Cantore.

Yep. The very person appointed by Obama to manage emergencies is the one person Obama has not ordered to the Gulf. After all of his talk and speeches and promises, he has not sent his emergency manager to mange the emergency. Huh?

He sent Attorney General Holder to symbolically investigate any crimes. Holder doesn't investigate. He sends federal agents to do that. Pointless symbolism. And a waste of everyone's time and energy. There will be plenty of time to investigate criminal and civil liability.

The first priority has to be taking real action on the emergency. Not talk. Not cabinet level visits. Real action. Real remediation of the problem. And that is what FEMA is supposed to do. And when something is this big, the director is supposed to be personally involved.

We have had the increasingly incompetent Napolitano down there. She's Fugate's boss. Why wasn't he there with her? She is from a state with neither water nor oil, yet there she was. And no FEMA director.

Cabinet members don't actually do any of the stuff their departments are charged with. Holder doesn't actively prosecute. Napolitano doesn't actually secure anything and so on. But the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is supposed to actively manage emergencies.

Last week, I made the point that the feds are very bad at this kind of stuff. And, historically, they are. This however, sets a new mark for bad emergency management. At least Michael Brown was in New Orleans dealing with Katrina. I still say Brown got a bum rap on Katrina, but that is a different debate.

Fugate is in Atlanta talking about possible storms while the Gulf is quickly becoming sludge central. Hard for that to be a bum rap. How can anyone justify not having the emergency manager on site?

What makes this really sad is that Craig Fugate is the emergency manager that saw Florida through 9 major storms in 14 months without a hitch. This is the guy that pretty much wrote the modern book on emergency management. So who told him to stay away and go do fluff with Cantore?

Obama promised us action. Well, let's see some action we can actually see. No speeches or commissions or panels or symbolic visits. Send the emergency manger to mange the emergency. One does not need to have graduated Harvard to figure that out.

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