The problem with the Macondo oil well blowout was it happened at the wrong time.
Lesson: with a big government liberal in the White House, in a conservative state you better hope if a disaster comes it’s close to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November in years divisible by four.
Shortly after Hurricane Sandy pushed ashore in New Jersey, President Barack Obama, among other things, authorized the waiving of the Merchant Marine (Jones) Act of 1920, which allows foreign-flagged vessels to transport between U.S. ports directly. Upon request in an emergency situation, the law – designed to bolster the U.S. marine industry and its unions – in this instance gave way to concerns of shipping in fuel to the stricken area. Former President George W. Bush had done likewise when Katrina plowed into Louisiana in 2005 to facilitate rescue and relief.
But in 2010, despite at least one known request to do so, Obama refused to allow waiving of the law when BP’s well in the Gulf of Mexico blew out. The result? The floating sheen advanced on the coastline and badly-needed skimming vessels were in short supply to ameliorate the potentially devastating effects. Officially, the Obama Administration feigned ignorance of the known request and asserted the law did not apply. Unofficially, this would serve to steer more resources into the hands of unions and placate environmentalist interests, as a broader strategy of turning down any foreign assistance.
Yet now over two years later, Obama is locked in a battle that looks like it will cost him his political life. In a disadvantageous position for an incumbent according to polls with momentum seemingly going against him, fellow media travelers and Democrats have speculated breathlessly that the storm could produce a game changing event, allowing Obama to look presidential. Part of that would be to appear decisive both in policymaking and in willingness to use whatever powers exist to appear to help in time of need.
And so, like magic, here comes a waiver.
Naturally, folks in Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states may feel miffed at getting stiffed because their states won’t supply Obama any electoral votes or fall victim to election year politicking, but never begrudge generosity. These people will get their say on this same-situation, different-treatment strategy today.