Responding To BP Isn’t About Politics

On TPM, Theda Skocpol is given space to respond to Robert Reich’s case for President Obama putting BP America in receivership so the company would be forced “to use all its available resources and submit itself to full federal oversight and control.” Skocpol’s response is purely taken from a political standpoint:

When a huge private corporation makes a mess and cannot fix it, it is sheer lunacy to take direct charge of that mess unless you can fix it right away.

This is not about politics. It’s about fixing a cataclysmic disaster in the Gulf. That actually matters to some people, but apparently not Skocpol. Sure, BP is saying nothing can produce the results needed to stop the leak until August at the earliest. But Skocpol is a political science professor, not a scientist. Her answer is based entirely on politics and not on any knowledge of what is and is not possible beyond what BP has told her.

I don’t dispute that from a purely political perspective, the administration taking ownership and responsibility for stopping this disaster by deposing BP  is risky if the government doesn’t actually produce better results than BP is saying they can (and to this point, they have produced no results). And yes, as Skocpol says, the administration should be doing a lot to hold BP financially and criminally accountable, while simultaneously dealing with the on-surface consequences of the oil spill in the Gulf. This isn’t a two-front war, it’s a three-front war and ignoring the third front only ensures that the job is harder on the other two fronts. And that the Gulf is turned into a wasteland for decades.

I really don’t care about the politically expedient response from the government. I care about the morally necessary response and the ecologically required urgency that action be taken. All of BP’s efforts have failed and while I am not a geologist or oceanographer or deep-sea drilling expert and therefore do not myself know what else can be done, I believe the size, power, and treasury of the US government is capable of finding another way to try to solve this problem.

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