GOP TO OBAMA: LEAVE BP ALOOOOOONE…. As astounding as Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Texas) groveling public apology to BP was yesterday, there’s a much larger, more relevant truth to keep in mind: President Obama is getting tough with BP, and the Republican Party wishes he wouldn’t.
For weeks, much of the criticism of the White House was centered around the idea that the administration wasn’t pushing BP hard enough. But on Wednesday, the president went into a meeting with the company’s executives, told them how it was going to be, and BP quickly agreed. The result: a $20 billion pot of money that will bring much-needed help to workers, businesses, and families who’ve been victimized by a devastating oil spill. This was no small task for Obama, and Americans have every right to be pleased. (One poll this week found 82% of the public supports the creation of the escrow fund.)
And yet, Republicans seem to be outraged. We talked yesterday about GOP officials and candidates sticking up for BP, and today, ThinkProgress put together this compilation video of Republican media figures doing the same thing. It’s all quite breathtaking, and the result of a strategy the party really hasn’t thought through.
Indeed, the rhetoric is almost comical. Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade suggested this morning that Obama is being “too tough” on BP. Talk of a “shakedown” is ubiquitous in conservative media circles. Some Republican media personalities have described the president’s securing of funds for the Gulf Coast as “illegal” and “unconstitutional.” Even after party leaders said Barton was “wrong,” leading party voices, including Rush Limbaugh, continue to insist he was right.
Now, it’s possible that Republicans in Congress and in the media are simply offering a knee-jerk response — Obama secured funding for spill victims, so the funding must be bad — but there seems to be more to this. Republicans on the Hill and in the media just want BP to be treated with kid gloves. A foreign oil giant is responsible for the worst environmental catastrophe in American history, and the GOP would prefer that Obama go easy on the company. In Rand Paul’s words, for the president to even criticize BP is “un-American.”
It would be better, Republicans are arguing, if aid to help spill victims didn’t exist, and if the president didn’t take the lead in getting resources for the region.
Every day, it seems to get a little easier for Democrats to characterize Republicans as “The Party of BP.”