Another narrative bites the dust

ANOTHER NARRATIVE BITES THE DUST…. For several days, the national media seemed heavily invested in characterizing the BP oil spill disaster as “Obama’s Katrina.” Major, mainstream outlets — not just Limbaugh and Fox News — “concocted the absurd ‘Obama’s Katrina’ claim in the first place, and then helped actively push it. Journalists did it by pointing to mostly faceless, imaginary ‘critics’ of the Obama administration in order to float the phony storyline.”

But it didn’t take. It may have had something to do with the intervention of other world events — the attempted terrorism in Times Square, the European debt crisis, the British elections — but vague criticism of the administration’s response to the Gulf was relatively short-lived. Even conservatives found it easily dismissible.

When House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) held a press conference to blast the president’s handling of the issue mid-week, he couldn’t explain why he was unsatisfied, and most of the political world found it best to just blow off his shallow nonsense.

While the oil spill disaster remains an ongoing crisis — indeed, oil continues to gush into the Gulf as I type — the questions surrounding the speed of the Obama administration’s response seem to have been answered. To the wire service’s credit, the AP’s H. Josef Hebert and Erica Werner published a lengthy report this morning on the “aggressive” federal response to the disaster.

The Gulf region, ravaged five years earlier by Hurricane Katrina, was on the verge of a second ecological disaster. Would there be a repeat of the bureaucratic bungling that marked President George W. Bush’s response to the hurricane?

While the Obama administration has faced second-guessing about the speed and effectiveness of some of its actions, a narrative pieced together by The Associated Press, based on documents, interviews and public statements, shows little resemblance to Katrina in either the characterization of the threat or the federal government’s response.

Reading the detailed piece, it’s hard to imagine how the administration’s response, given the information available, could have been better. That’s cold comfort given the severity of the huge oil spill and the ecological, economic, and environmental consequences. No matter how efficient and thorough the administration’s response, the disaster is no less a disaster. Taking the White House off the to-be-blamed list isn’t as important as the ongoing effort to deal with the crisis itself.

Nevertheless, the political drive to blame President Obama for a sluggish response looks increasingly ridiculous.

The White House’s detractors will have to find something else to obsess over. The Katrina comparison, comically flawed when it was first raised, has been proven baseless.