WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ‘COMPETENCE’?…. Like John Cole, I found this Politico piece to be rather bizarre.

The ferocious oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening President Barack Obama’s reputation for competence, just as surely as it endangers the Gulf ecosystem.

So White House aides are escalating their efforts to reassure Congress and the public in the face of a slow-motion catastrophe, even though it’s not clear they can bring it under control anytime soon.

Someone’s going to have to explain this one to me. A disaster caused by an explosion on a BP oil rig brings the administration’s competence into question? In what universe does this make sense?

The federal response to the still-unfolding crisis has been as effective as it can be under impossible circumstances. The administration didn’t approve this rig, wasn’t the one ignoring the need for remote-control acoustic shutoff switches, and didn’t spend eight years downplaying the need for regulations and oversight of the oil industry. Federal officials responded as quickly as they could, with as many resources as they could.

Unless Politico expects the president to don a cape and fly around the planet really quickly in order to reverse time, it may have unreasonable expectations of what any administration is capable of in a situation like this.

Indeed, what is it, exactly, that Obama should do to prove himself worthy on this particular disaster? Unable to find actual, substantive administration missteps to complain about, far-right media personalities have been reduced to bizarre conspiracy theories. Even congressional Republicans — generally desperate to hit the White House with anything they can find — haven’t had much to say, in part because they still love drilling, and in part because they apparently can’t think of anything specific to criticize.

The president has been responding effectively to a rash of crises since the day he took office. At this point, I’m more inclined to question Politico‘s competence than Obama’s.

Update: In reference to my Superman joke, Atrios reminds me, “In fairness, Obama did tell us that he was the son of Jor-El.” Good point; I’d forgotten about that.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.