I agree that the press is partying like it’s 1999/2000:
Ms Dowd’s involvement is fitting, as this may be the sorriest spectacle of content-free public hyperventilation since Al Gore’s earth tones. The difference is that in this case the issue is deadly serious; it’s the public discourse that is puerile. There is plenty of room for substantive critique of the flaws in governance and policy uncovered by the Deepwater Horizon blowout. You could talk about regulatory failure. You could talk about corporate impunity. You could talk about blithely ignoring the tail-end risk of going ahead with deepwater drilling without any capacity to cope with catastrophic blowouts. Precisely none of these subjects are evident in the arguments our pundit class is having. Instead we have empty-headed squawking over what the catastrophe is doing to Barack Obama’s image.
Who’s raising concrete critiques of administration policy? Chiefly Mr Obama. Last Thursday he laid out a series of mistakes he felt he had made. Chief among them was taking oil companies at their word when they claimed to have the capability to cope with worst-case deep-sea drilling catastrophes. Now, if we feel that the president has failed to act aggressively enough on this issue, both before and since the accident, then what course of action should we now be calling on him to take? One logical step might be for the government to immediately shut down every offshore drilling rig in proximity to America’s coasts, pending the development of redundant, fail-safe capacity for capping and remediating catastrophic blowouts. Is this a good idea? I don’t know. But if you wanted to argue concretely that the administration had not been acting aggressively enough in this crisis, then this is the sort of more-aggressive action you might be calling for.
All that’s well and good, but actually doing something is nowhere near as important as emoting and pounding your good.
Update. Although there are those that say Bob Somerby is nuts, this epic piece on the origins of the earth tones story and other related matters is a must read.