If you’re a gay marine or a Chilean miner, you got some love from the Big O on Tuesday evening.
But there was no love to be found for Louisiana and the gulfcoast in President Barack Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address.
The president’s speech was chock full of his trademark lofty rhetoric that also included references to renewable energy, the end of the military’s rules on gay servicemen and women, previously mentioned trade agreements and increased government spending.
Hell even sputnik made it in, though the mention was ironic since Obama has cut NASA’s budget.
Not even a year ago, an environmental catastrophe took place that claimed the lives of 11 offshore oil platform workers, dumped over 200,000,000 gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico that damaged our fragile wetlands, spoiled hundreds of miles of beaches and endangered the livelihoods of thousands of fishermen.
It was Three Mile Island on the bayou.
Yet the magnitude of the disaster and the plight of the out of work petroleum engineer, bankrupt oyster harvester and contaminated porpoise ended up on the cutting room floor of his speech writer…assuming it even got that far.
In a press release issued within minutes of the conclusion of the State of the Union, the Louisiana Republican Party pointed out that Obama’s 6,826 word address contained 184 words about the rescue of the Chilean miners yet not a single mention about the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the resulting environmental and economic fallout that followed the explosion.
Sure, the president found the time to curse the darkness of oil industry profits, but failed to use his annual big speech to light a candle about the need for the federal government to rebuild the Louisiana coastline, which had been chopped to shreds for decades to satisfy the nation’s energy needs and maritime commerce.
President George W. Bush was rightly criticized after his 2007 State of the Union when he failed to mention either Hurricane Katrina or the south Louisiana and coastal Mississippi communities still struggling to recover from the most destructive tropical cyclone in American history.
Will there be catcalls beyond the Louisiana border for Obama’s snub?
The Obama Administration’s lack of leadership and poor response to the oil spill is his Katrina. It is a milestone of failure for his administration that unnerved his liberal base that assumed they were getting competency along with hope.
Perhaps the most naïve in our state were hoping to hear something about an aggressive wetlands restoration effort that reverse coastal erosion that increases Louisiana’s vulnerability to hurricane storm surge. But that costs money, money that could be better spent in blue or purple states.
The president has callously exploited the environmental catastrophe to advance his anti-oil energy agenda and his administration has played legal and rhetorical games regarding the resumption of offshore oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, which has hurt the region’s economy while contributing to the escalation in the price of oil.
That Obama had the temerity to talk about Americans competing for jobs in the global market is especially galling, as his ideologically rooted energy policy has sent jobs overseas. The bureaucratic skirmishes involving exploration permits have caused oil companies to lose the confidence necessary to make substantial investments in domestic energy production.
Obama obviously hopes the oil spill with all of its negative press will simply go away. And to some degree it has, temporarily camouflaged by the continued bad job market. However it’ll be there to greet him at the voting booth and/or later in the history books.
Conservative media mocked then-candidate Obama for his 57-state flub while he was on the campaign trail. As president, Obama has governed as if there are fewer states in the Union as they are stars on the flag.
And we thought the picture of W peering out the window of Air Force One was in bad taste; at least Bush was looking in the direction of Louisiana.