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Sanford D. Horn: Many villains, no heroes


Column by Sanford D. Horn
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Rahm Emanuel is the opportunist’s opportunist. The Obama administration chief of staff first said “never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Then, this past weekend, Emanuel referred to Congressman Joe Barton’s apology to BP as a “gift,” demonstrative of how the GOP would behave. For that, Emanuel is a villain.

Texas Republican Joe Barton chided the Obama administration last week for “shaking down” BP to the tune of $20 billion, in the form of an apology to the beleaguered oil company. Barton then redacted his apology to BP, no doubt under pressure from key GOP leadership, who may have threatened to relieve Barton of his ranking position on the Energy and Commerce Committee. For his backpedaling, Barton is a villain.

It begs the question, who shook down Barton? What was wrong with his apology to BP? Barton merely expressed what he believed to be an inappropriate action by the Obama administration to make financial demands on a private corporation. Financial demands that would hurt not just the company’s bottom line – and deservedly so, as they are responsible for the worst oil spill in American history – but the investments of private citizens. That any member of the Obama administration would demand that BP not pay its dividend to its investors is disturbingly anti-capitalist, but not surprising. For such dubious financial advice, the Obama administration is a villain.

BP no doubt capitulated to avoid a deepening public relations nightmare, which, quite frankly, they brought upon themselves via the numerous verbal gaffes by CEO Tony Hayward as well as a number of spokesmen for whom English is not their first language. BP is certainly a villain on so many levels.

Public relations plays a major role in the restoration or continued deterioration of the image of BP, the Obama administration and even Congressman Barton.

The media determined BP is the villain because of the environmental disaster unleashed upon the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding communities – and rightfully so.

But hold the phone just a minute here – while appropriately castigating Hayward, the so-called mainstream media has said little of Obama, except to criticize him for wanting to find someone’s ass to kick. For that, the lame-stream media is a villain.

The media needlessly piled on Hayward grilling him for spending the past weekend on his yacht, after being relieved of his spokesman responsibilities. Clearly Hayward is an insensitive dolt and a villain, but not after being replaced as spokesman.

However, where was the media criticism of Obama for playing two rounds of golf in the past five days? (He’s played more golf in the last week than I have in the past year. A friend suggested I become president so I might play more golf.) And instead of criticizing Obama for taking in last Friday’s Nationals – White Sox game at Nationals Park, a simple picture in The Washington Post shows Obama enjoying the national pastime. For lacking the sense of urgency and his late arrival on the scene Obama is most assuredly a villain.

However, once Obama did arrive on the scene, he wandered about looking for someone’s ass to kick. The media did not criticize Obama for not knowing whose ass to kick (both his own and BP’s) but instead focused on his use of language. I applaud him for wanting to find someone’s ass to kick – it was Obama’s first sign of emotion during this entire debacle.

Shame on the media for feigning Puritan and Victorian shock in the wake of coarse language – see also Vice President Joe Biden, the dust up between Senator Patrick Leahy and former Vice President Dick Cheney and countless others.

As a journalist/columnist, rest assured, there’s nary a newsroom not rife with coarse language – and politicians are certainly no different, so cut the crap and the false indignation. For not placing criticisms where they belong, the media is again a villain.

Where there is a villain, there is a hero – black hats versus white hats as depicted in old Westerns. Bottom line – many villains, the only known heroes – the residents and business owners in the Gulf region trying to restore some semblance of a life.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria.



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