President Obama From the Oval: Too Little? Too Late?

White House officials appear to assume, correctly, that they can’t ‘win’ the oil spill. So they had to make the tragedy about something bigger than the oil. That’s why the president called for the first steps in ‘the transition away from fossil fuels’: ‘[T]he time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.’

The president’s speech:

The transcript.

Mike Allen is reporting that

A White House aide has the official word: ‘President Obama reiterated his call for comprehensive energy and climate legislation to break our dependence on oil and fossil fuels. In the coming weeks he will be reaching out to Senators on both sides of the aisle to chart a path forward. A number of proposals have been put forward from Members on both sides of the aisle. We’re open to good ideas from all sources, and will be working with Senators on a comprehensive proposal. The tragedy in the Gulf underscores the need to move quickly, and the President is committed to finding the votes for comprehensive energy legislation this year.’

Of the pieces I’ve read by pundits, most of them weren’t positive. Michale Gerson of WaPo:

The main impression left by President Obama’s address on the oil spill is the chasm between the ambition of its commitments and the thinness of its policies. Obama pledges to “fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes.” Then he authorizes National Guard deployments that he cannot order, urging “governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible.” He will “meet with” the chairman of BP to urge him to set aside sufficient recovery funds. He has “asked” someone who works for him to develop a long-term Gulf Coast restoration plan. He will bring “new leadership” to the Minerals Management Service. He will push for energy legislation he supported even before the current disaster, while pronouncing announcing himself “happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party.”

Slate’s John Dickerson:

‘[T]he president made the situation worse for himself. The use of the language of war created the imbalance. He talked of a ‘battle’ and ‘siege,’ but like all the other times when war has been misused-the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the economic war Joe Biden declared last year-the action taken didn’t match the words used to describe the menace.’

Even Keith Olbermann:

‘Not even much of a pitch for his own energy bill which, as he mentioned, was passed by the House, which he did not mention was stalled in the Senate and still sits there. … Nothing. Nothing specific. Nothing specific at all.’

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