Right Question. Wrong Time. Bad Indication.


In my line of work I out a lot of fires.  For many many years, I was on call 7 by 24.  7 days a week.  I took my laptop with me to the beach for 9 days when I got married.  My daughter was 14 days old when we went to the hospital with her; I was on the phone with a client during her stay.

Pino knows crisis.

None of the work I did ever amounted to the staggering impact that this spill will have; on the environment, on the lives of people in the region and in scope of dollars lost.

But what I can tell you is when someone is making the mistake of asking the right questions at the right time.  And further, that by doing so, they are signaling a very strong need to cover their ass.

During a crisis, and the bigger they are the more important this becomes, every single action, decision and spent energy must be spent on ending that crisis.  And ending it quickly.  If you do your job well, the questions and action items after the event will be straight forward.  However, if you have NOT done that job well, but have done it long enough, you know you’re gonna get hammered and how.  You begin to take cover; you begin to act in a manner that doesn’t solve the crisis.  You begin to ask the right questions; just at the wrong time.

And the Administration is doing that right now:

U.S. officials, meanwhile, are pressing BP to clarify how the company will cover costs relating to the Gulf oil spill.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says reimbursement for individuals and state and federal government will be on the agenda when she and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar meet with Hayward and other BP executives in Washington later Monday. She told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the Obama administration wants to make sure there is a clear claims process set up for proper reimbursement.

Why are they doing this?

Another potential hazard was a political one that depends on how the public judges the Obama administration’s response. In 2005, President George W. Bush stumbled in dealing with Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf and left the impression of a president distant from immense suffering. His presidency never recovered.

Now, to be fair, I’m not sure the Administration has failed the region.  But I think they intuit they might have:

Another potential hazard was a political one that depends on how the public judges the Obama administration’s response. In 2005, President George W. Bush stumbled in dealing with Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf and left the impression of a president distant from immense suffering. His presidency never recovered.

Much information can be gleaned by not only the literal words someone is saying, but the hows and the why in which they said them.

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4 comments
  1. 10s of thousands of people were without food and water after Katrina while Bush congratulated his cronies for doing a good job. There’s no way to compare the oil disaster to Katrina. They’re two completely different animals.

    • pino said:

      The point of the post was not to focus so much on the comparison of the two. Rather that the Obama administration is nervous about this one.

      As I mentioned, I don’t know if they delayed or failed; they may have done a very good job up front. Too emotionally charged right now.

      • This is an opportunity for Obama to show either brilliance or mediocrity. So far, he’s not doing too bad. He’s putting some of the fishermen who are being hurt financially by the oil spill to work trying to help contain the spill.

      • pino said:

        This is an opportunity for Obama to show either brilliance or mediocrity. So far, he’s not doing too bad.

        I agree.

        So far he seems to be doing fine.

        My only point is that his administration is asking questions that indicate THEY think there may be trouble. Obama could simply focus on containing the spill and address payments once that spill is taken care of and he’d be fine.

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