Sunday, June 20, 2010

fuel for the fire

I'll be curious to see what happens when tar balls start washing up on non-American shores. True: the BP disaster is already of a large enough scale to be called "international," but in terms of what pols and pundits call "optics," i.e., how a situation looks to others, nothing screams "It's your fault!" quite like having a mess inside one's own territory drift inexorably across international borders. Forget the fact that BP isn't American; forget the fact that no sane person would have wanted a drilling rig to explode and kill eleven people; what people will see-- the optics-- is American crude sullying non-American beaches.

I admit I feel a bit sorry for Obama. My buddy Mike was probably right when he predicted that the oil spill would likely last beyond Election Day (they're now saying the disaster equals one Exxon Valdez every four days). This mess happened on Obama's watch, and along with his administration's other faux pas, this newest and biggest mess isn't going to be forgotten in November. If anything, it's going to be the mess that reminds the voter of all the other messes, and it will be skillfully woven into a narrative of overall party incompetence. The blindly party-line voters won't change their stance much, but the all-important swing voters, the ones not married to either party, will be watching, gauging the rhetoric, and making their own decisions.


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