“Leadership” is defined by Dictionary.com as providing guidance and direction. “Bureaucracy” is defined as an administration characterized by excessive red tape and routine.
Ours is supposedly a government of compassion. The Democratic Party, the party in power, represents itself as the party that cares about people, yet when our coast is threatened by the largest oil spill in the history of the country, our leader can’t make a decision, nor are his people empowered to.
How does a leader act in a time of crisis? Christopher Chantrill cited a perfect example this morning at American Thinker:
What do you do when things go wrong? Obviously you cannot run all problems up the hierarchy for a decision. You must push decision-making power downwards to the people closer to the action.
You must do what Wal-Mart did before the original Hurricane Katrina. CEO Lee Scott sent the word out to Wal-Mart’s people in the New Orleans area: “A lot of you are going to have to make decisions above your level. Make the best decision that you can with the information that’s available to you at the time, and, above all, do the right thing.”
We cannot know whether CEO Scott really trusted his people. But in the emergency, he had no choice. He told his people that he trusted them to do the right thing, and he left it to them to make the right decisions.
Gov. Jindal responded to the spill by, among other actions, asking the Corps of Engineers to approve the construction of sand berms to capture oil as it approached our barrier islands. The Corps spent three weeks evaluating the environmental impact of the proposal, when they should have only required five minutes to consider the environmental impact of declining that request. Someone in the field should have been empowered to make such a decision, quickly and without fear of retribution, but bureaucracies don’t work that way. Now we have oil in the marshes, and finally a commitment from the Corps to build a few test berms to “evaluate their effectiveness.”
George W. Bush was castrated because his government took three days to get federal aid flowing into New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Barack Obama takes six weeks to approve the construction of five berms as a test.
For a sense of perspective, in those three days when Bush was doing “nothing,” the U.S. Army was moving entire units into Louisiana from as far away as Kentucky, the Coast Guard was rescuing from twenty to thirty thousand trapped flood victims, and FEMA was launching the mammoth logistical effort to move the materials necessary for recovery. So what did Bush do wrong again? Looked out a plane window, you say? (J. R. Dunn, also at American Thinker)
What has Mr. Obama been doing during this time of crisis? Well, he had a vacation in North Carolina. He spent Memorial Day weekend in Chicago, his first opportunity to sleep in his own bed since the inauguration. And he had Paul McCartney serenade his first lady at the White House. “Michelle, ma belle…”
There have been several Congressional hearings to try to assess blame. Attorney General Holder has loosed hordes of Justice Department lawyers to start prosecuting the criminals.
These are not examples of the kind of leadership that expediently resolves a crisis.
It has oft been cited that this crisis is British Petroleum’s responsibility. That is not literally correct.
The costs are theirs to bear.
We’ve said here before that the administration did the correct thing in leaving the oil companies (yes, plural) in charge of stopping the flow of oil from the well. Nowhere is there greater expertise to address that crisis, and experts from throughout the industry are assembled and are working feverishly to accomplish that feat, recognizing that they are creating new technology on the fly, as this has never happened in 5000 feet of water. (And as others have noted, we’d not be in 5000 feet of water had Carter/Clinton/Gore/Obama environmentalists not pushed the exploration companies out there. We would be on land, or in water shallow enough for real people, divers, to be doing the work rather than Remotely Operated Vehicles.)
But responding to the environmental threat was the responsibility of our government. All BP is responsible for is writing the checks. A plan had been drawn up years ago, so a response could be swift, but the equipment that plan called for, fire booms to capture and burn the oil, was nowhere to be found.
We have not seen leadership from our government during this time of crisis, but rather we have seen politics. This crisis has afforded the administration an opportunity to once again tout its “green jobs” initiative, and to prepare for yet another attempt at getting some form of “cap and trade” legislation through the Senate. Rather than taking actions to address the loss of livelihood and of a very way of life, they are placing new deep water drilling on a six month hold, further damaging the economy of our state which is already taking the brunt of the blow!
And we will not forget the eleven lives that were lost when this crisis started. Mr. Obama will host their families at the White House later this week, no doubt amid much fanfare, it was announced last week. Where is the leadership, the compassion, in a man who waits six weeks to realize he has committed a political gaffe in not addressing their loss sooner?
The leader is a paradigm. The paradigm we have seen is one of indifference if not incompetence, politics rather than governance, and bureaucracy rather than empowerment.
The response to the oil spill in the Gulf is a perfect example of management by bureaucracy – government too big to respond in a crisis. And the present administration and Congress are determined to make it bigger.
The paradigm needs to shift.