We’re already getting foreign assistance

WE’RE ALREADY GETTING FOREIGN ASSISTANCE…. There’s a peculiar claim that continues to circulate on the right about the federal response to the BP oil spill, and I’m not even sure why conservatives are bothering with it. The argument isn’t only wrong, it’s pointless.

On “Fox News Sunday” yesterday, Liz Cheney sought to prove that President Obama isn’t doing everything possible to address the disaster in the Gulf.

“[The president] doesn’t say that he’ll allow foreign carriers to come in, [he] doesn’t then move to do anything possible, [and he] won’t grant a waiver for the Jones Act.”

Former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said something similar last week, complaining that the administration “should have … accepted the assistance of foreign countries.” Glenn Beck told his minions last week that the president “needs to explain why we haven’t — why we turned down all the international help. They offered it within a couple of days. We said no.”

There are three key angles to this. The first is that Cheney, Palin, Beck, and others who keep repeating the argument are simply, demonstrably wrong. Foreign governments have offered assistance, and the Obama administration has accepted it — this includes skimmers and boom from Mexico, three sets of Koseq sweeping arms from the Dutch, eight Norwegian skimming systems, and 3,000 meters of containment boom from Canada.

Why not accept even more international help? Because, as the president has already explained, some of the offered assistance is redundant and unnecessary.

The second point to keep in mind is that the White House hasn’t granted a waiver for the Jones Act because there’s been no need to. There have been “15 foreign-flagged vessels” involved in the response. How many needed a waiver to participate? None. How many vessels have been turned away because of the Jones Act? None.

For that matter, the White House has said it would gladly start issuing waivers if the circumstances warranted it. Cheney is just popping off without getting her facts straight (again).

And third, aside from the simple facts of the matter, I’m not even sure why the angry right is taking this talking point seriously. What’s the message here? That President Obama is opposed to international cooperation? Isn’t that Republicans’ job?

I get the sense conservatives are so desperate to attack the White House over the BP spill that it’s clouded their judgment, leading to nonsensical talking points like this one.