Panel on the Oil Spill Cleanup

Panel on the Oil Spill Cleanup

By Special Report With Bret Baier - May 26, 2010


PRESIDENT OBAMA: My administration is intensively engaged with scientists and engineers to explore all alternative options. And we're going to bring every resource necessary to put a stop to this thing.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX HOST: President Obama trying yet again to get out in front of the disaster in the Gulf. He has a big offensive plan with a news conference Thursday and a second trip to Louisiana on Friday.

Let's bring in our panel, Tucker Carlson, editor of the, Erin Billings, deputy editor of Roll Call, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

So Charles, the president will get a report from the Interior Secretary Salazar tomorrow, but we know what is in it today. It will call for more safety regulations, tougher inspections. He will have a news conference and then he goes to the area Friday.

Does any of this matter, or is the only thing that can get the president off the hook here is to close the darn spill?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: None of it matters. It all hinges on whether "top kill", an interesting name for the procedure that is now happening, like top-hat, will work or not. If it does, he's a genius. If it doesn't, and if we have to wait until August, which the commandant of the Coast Guard said is possible, that August is when the relief wells would be completed, that will be the likely cure, if nothing else succeeds. But we have to wait until August and rate of the flow of the oil continues and it will be a catastrophe, then he suffers.

I'm rather sympathetic to the president on this. This is largely out of his hands. The Democrats and the liberals were hardly as sympathetic with Bush after Katrina, but sometimes a president is held accountable no matter what is in his power or not.

I think the one person who is benefiting politically is the Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, who has been out there, energetic, demanding more equipment, skimmers, barges from the federal government. He's been coming up with somewhat loony ideas like putting in his own barrier islands, but at least he gives what Alexander Hamilton called energy in the executive, the image of action.

And Obama looks as if he's over-learnt the lesson he learned in '08 when he was calm and collected in the financial meltdown and McCain got hyperactive and a little bit overactive on something he couldn't help, and he's acting again cool and collected. And I think the country wants energy and passion.

WALLACE: Erin, the political blowback is growing. We reported earlier that Governor Jindal says now that 100 miles of coastline in Louisiana have been hit by the oil. So this problem really is beginning to literally and figuratively hit home.

Governor Jindal and Florida Senator Bill Nelson are both urging, pressing the president to get tougher. And take a look at this editorial from today's New Orleans Times Picayune: "Most Americans are ready for the president to light a fire under the company BP and under the bureaucracy overseeing the disaster response."

The political heat on the president is growing.

ERIN BILLING, ROLL CALL: It has grown and it will continue to grow. Even if the well or this top-kill works, this is just the beginning. This is the beginning of the PR campaign.

I don't think that even if this works and people claim some victory, the problems are going to continue. This is a huge, huge massive spill. We don't even know what the ramifications and the consequences, we have no idea what the ecological or economic impact will be.

So this is a huge mess. The president tried to keep some distance early on because he wanted this to be all on BP. Now you look at the opinion polls and they say we want the president and the administration to do more. They want someone to blame.

BP hasn't fixed the problem. Now they're looking to the administration to step in. And he can't avoid it any longer.

WALLACE: Is there anything, Tucker, that the president could have done, could do now more? I mean I understand people want action, and to a certain degree as Charles says, it's really out of the president's control and that's a hard thing for people to accept.

What more over the last five weeks, talking now 35-38 days. What more could the president have done?

TUCKER CARLSON, EDITOR, THE DAILYCALLER.COM: Not just over that period but over the preceding year. You hear people say what was the plan? What was the plan for the deep water oil leak? And the truth is they didn't have one because you can't plan for every possibility. And you shouldn't because it's waste of time.

There is a limit to government power, even the president's power, and to human power. And you kind of wish the president would admit that tomorrow. He won't. He will attack BP. And it is fundamentally their fault and his job is to hold them accountable. They ought to pay for it. That's just fair.

But nobody is admitting the obvious, which is accidents happen, tragedies occur, this is one of them, and the federal government literally can't fix everything. And I think people lose sight of the fundamental fact.

WALLACE: It's interesting, I'll pick up on that with you, Charles, because The Wall Street Journal had an interesting editorial today which basically said that all the finger-pointing early on by the Obama administration about BP has in effect backfired because it fed the narrative that there was something that could be done.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think that's right, and the idea that you have to light a fire under the oil companies is absurd.

WALLACE: Put your boot on their neck is -

KRAUTHAMMER: You know, a kind of a fascist image which is ugly in the first - in any circumstances, but here, extremely odd and sort of offensive.

But the president, I mean implying that if we only put pressure on the oil company it would act more quickly, it is in its interest to stop the leak. Every day, every hour that the leak continues increases the liability, the damage, the restitution it's going to have to pay. This company could disappear. It has every incentive right now to stop the leak as best it can, and the idea that somehow it isn't being pushed or prodded enough is absurd.


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