A mild brouhaha broke out today when Texas congressman Joe Barton told BP CEO Tony Hayward that he was “ashamed” at the way the Obama administration had asked the notorious oil-spilling company to set aside $20 billion in a fund to help cover the damages caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Democrats and some Republicans have reacted with shock and outrage to Barton's remark.
If they had, they wouldn't be surprised to see someone from the right side of the political spectrum acting as though BP is blameless. In particular, we're thinking of an objectively loathsome column that the OC-based Republican blog ran from syndicated pundit Mona Charen on Tuesday. Charen had penned the speech that she thought President Obama should deliver from the Oval Office, apologizing for handing the oil spill in the wrong way. Some highlights:
So when the oil spill became a national story, our instinct was to bash the company..
Going beyond rhetorical overkill, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department had opened a criminal probe into the oil spill — though without offering a shred of evidence that any laws had been broken…
But most of all, we must, as grown-ups, recognize that sometimes terrible things happen and there is no one to blame. The search for villains is unbecoming a mature people. My administration will drop the criminal probe. We will abandon the paradoxical posture of saying that we are responsible for the response to the spill yet at the same time hurling thunderbolts at BP.
There is no one to blame? No evidence of laws being broken? Malign the government's clean-up strategy, response time, regulations and lack of foresight all you want. But the idea that BP didn't invite disaster by repeatedly flouting the safety advise from their own employees and contractors is, well, really dubious. I mean, for God's sake, walruses!