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  • The Silent Treatment: BP CEO Tony Hayward and President Obama

    News reports today on the oil spill in the Gulf have centered on the president’s crude remarks that he was looking for an “a** to kick.” But what has been largely unreported is the fact that President Obama has not spoken with BP CEO Tony Hayward one single time since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in April. Not once.

    Speaking to the BBC, Hayward said: “There is no need for that…I have spoken to his key lieutenants.”

    Whether Hayward sees a need for this conversation is immaterial. Just yesterday, Obama told NBC’s Matt Lauer that he would fire Hayward if under his employ, for the obtuse remarks the CEO recently made about wanting his life back. Obama has made vilifying BP’s corporate leadership a centerpiece of his oil spill response, and yet, not once has the president felt the need to directly address the chief executive officer of the company responsible for the Gulf disaster and for capping the leak?

    There are a few potential reasons for this lack of communication. The president may feel that communication with BP is better delegated. However, even in the best of circumstances, a good delegator has to be engaged at the executive level. Or, Obama may be so angry with BP for hijacking his 2010 agenda that frustration alone is keeping him from calling. Over the past week, Obama has acted like a staged bully to give the media the frustration they’ve been clamoring for. But the silent treatment over the past seven weeks may be more indicative of his anger than any vulgarities.

    And then there is perception. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the president was the largest single recipient of campaign contributions from BP and its employees over the past twenty years. The left has fruitlessly tried to pin the fault of this catastrophe on a “cozy” relationship between oil companies and the Bush administration, while the president has done his best to distance himself from earning a similar rebuke from his own side.

    But every possible reason is merely speculation. The fact is that we don’t know why the president has chosen not to speak with anyone at BP, about anything.

    Steven Cuevas, a former senior official at the U.S. Energy Department, told Heritage that Obama could have brought Hayward into the Oval Office for an official rebuke and then “issued a statement that the President was direct and curt in telling Hayward his expectations.” Cuevas asks: “Wouldn’t that have made him look ‘in command’?” It certainly could have gone a long way towards making the president appear more in control of the crisis than is currently the case.

    The president has faced criticism from across the political spectrum for hosting a multitude of rock concerts at the White House, going on vacation, golfing, and entertaining Bono, Marv Albert and sports teams, rather than maintaining focus on the Gulf emergency. This lack of communication between the two executives in charge of the recovery effort adds fuel to the fire that the president simply has better things to do, like hanging out with entertainers and athletes.

    The oil spill is possibly the largest environmental disaster to ever face our nation. The costs of the clean-up are BP’s responsibility but the oversight belongs to the federal government. It will take months, if not years, to fully recover. Congress will be hosting Mr. Hayward on Capitol Hill next week for hearings. Maybe the president should swing by and introduce himself.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to The Silent Treatment: BP CEO Tony Hayward and President Obama

    1. Jo, Illinois says:

      The better qustions is: Why are you surprised that he has been mute on this?

    2. Pete, Houston says:

      Would the President have anything intelligent to add to the discussion with BP. I do not believe that he would. He is pretty good at the blame game but very little substance on making the situation better. The phrase "Talking Head" would better be applied to the current President. Would someone please put the Presidential puppet back in it's box.

    3. Jill, California says:

      Like Glenn Beck says, "Watch what the other hand is doing."

      It's not in Obama's best interests to talk with Tony Hayward … just as it wasn't in his best interests to talk with Republicans about healthcare reform. The more damage done in the Gulf Coast, the more it plays into Obama's plans. What we don't know … yet … is what those plans are.

    4. Tim says:

      I thought you right-wingnuts didn't want us talking to terrorists! What's changed?

    5. Drew Page, IL says:

      Up until a day or two ago, Mr. Obama was being criticized, even within his own party, for not showing more passion over the oil spill. They were saying "he was being too detached, even 'professorial' about it; he wasn't angry enough; he wasn't showing up enough in Louisianna." Mr. Obama's interview with Matt Lauer suggests that Mr. Obama has been listening to the critics. He told Mr. Lauer that the oil spill was not an intellectual classroom problem to him (see, he's not being 'professorial'). He showed anger and passion, announcing a planned a–kicking, while maintaining control by admitting he wasn't yet certain of whose a– would be kicked. And the trips to the Louisianna coast have become a bit more frequent (see, he cares).

    6. Billie says:

      Obama talks about the disaster of it all while he does nothing but pr. forget these idiots. the people should convoy down with hay and clean up the destruction. restore the rightful habitat to the rightful habitants..

      Obama said he wants to "kick some ass." How about, we all get up, turn around and moon him! Just for poohs and laughs!

    7. David, NY says:

      One thing for certain, the real reason is wholly unrelated to the explanation provided by Mr. Gibbs. The only transparency is the complete and utter lack of transparency.

    8. Spiritof76, NH says:

      Any idiot can talk tough. All the thugs do. That is where it stops. No leadership is evident to faciliatate a resolution to stop the leak and clean up. Obama is not a leader. He doesn't know how to take hold of a complex situation, organize and lead to a positive solution. He is clueless. He has not done anything real in his life other than organizing for agitation. It shows clearly and we suffer.

    9. Jill, California says:

      If Obama wants to kick some a__, he should start with the donkey in the mirror.

    10. Gary says:

      Obama doesn't want to expose his total lack of knowledge on any subject outside of "community"

      organizing. This is why he would never have a personal conversation with the CEO of Britsh Petroleum. Refusing the help of foreign nations in controlling this spill, is criminal. This is like having a Jihadist as President.

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    12. Pete, Billericay, Es says:

      From over here (Essex, England) it looks like the President of the USA has lost the plot. How can a complex technical problem be solved by vilifying the person heading up the team trying to solve it? Mr President may be of more help if he took a boat out to the oil platform and shouted at it! Also where's all the jingoism leading us (ref calling BP "British Petroleum" – they changed from calling it that years ago). If he wants to start mud slinging, let's remind him of the US govts. soft approach to american firm disasters like the Torrey Canyon (English Channel) Piper Alpha (many deaths in the North Sea), Bhopal (Union Carbide in India) Exxon Valdez (Alaska). Also bombing Iraq to Kingdom Come was like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut…….Mr President, your halo is about to choke you – we all wish disasters did not happen & we have to deal with them the best we can. I fervently hope this disaster is overcome quickly with or without your help!

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