July 7, 2010
NEW YORK, July 7, 2010/ Troy Media/ – US President Barack Obama made every mistake in the book in managing the BP oil spill.
That’s the opinion of Washington, D.C.-based maverick congressional attorney Jonathan W. Emord, who’s built an impressive reputation defending constitutional rights and freedoms.
Emord, 49, earns a very decent living “suing the government,” as he puts it, on issues concerning health, drugs and the environment.
He loves a fight, and if there is a cause behind it that he feels strongly about, odds are he’s likely to win.
This pugnacious attorney enjoys telling reporters he has successfully sued the US Food and Drug Administration seven times.
No ulterior motives
While his clients are typically big-pocketed large corporations, Emord made a point of saying he doesn’t have a vested financial interest in the BP crisis or an axe to grind. He’s not being paid to harpoon the president. He’s voicing his opinions as an expert and an informed observer of government, particularly its regulatory agencies.
“I wanted to understand why decisions were made,” he says.
Emord candidly expresses amazement over the “peculiar way in which the Obama administration responded to the situation – particularly the way it failed to respond to the crisis immediately.”
Compounding the problem, Emord adds, administrative agencies failed to take responsibility and be accountable for the unfolding disaster. “Is it any wonder solutions weren’t implemented to solve it?” he asks.
Emord attributes the federal government’s inability to take immediate action to what he calls “fear of the ‘Dan Brown’ syndrome.” (Following blockbuster runaway success The Da Vinci Code, author Dan Brown published a heavily criticized, anticlimactic dud, The Lost Symbol.)
No one wants to be the fall guy and have his head cut off, says Emord. A typical bureaucratic response is not taking responsibility for bad news. And if someone is held accountable for bad news, the doomed government official becomes a scapegoat, he says.
Buck-passing favorite tactic
“To avoid scapegoating, everyone passes the buck,” he continues. Making matters worse, “no one is condoning any action that would make a material difference,” Emord adds. “So government decision-makers perceived the BP spill as a disaster unlikely to be solved. So rather than do something dramatic – appropriate during a crisis – they did a turtle thing: They put their heads in their shells and waited it out, hoping someone will step up and do something or the president will assign someone to take the fall.”
Meanwhile, all the public gets are superficial progress reports from the US Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers.
“The way it works at the emergency response center near the BP spill is that any attempt by a local government to do anything must first run the bureaucratic gauntlet,” Emord explains. “It has to go through the Unified Command Center in Mobile, Ala., which refers the information to the administrative agencies. If any agency objects, nothing is done. Not only is nothing done, but the counties involved are not even told. It’s all about not taking political responsibility for an action during this extreme crisis.”
Panic reaction immobilizes rescue efforts
Emord calls the government’s inertia – its inability to react positively to the BP spill – a panic reaction, which was carefully hidden from the American people.
“The government realized that, given the volume of oil gushing from the wellhead, it was going to be the largest oil disaster in American history. They had video footage from the wellhead to prove it.”
Meanwhile, BP was minimizing the quantity of oil being released with assurances that the spill was under control, Emord adds.
Crisis management at its worst
Because smart decisions weren’t made at the onset of the crisis, the spill has yet to be fully contained, Emord observes.
Initially, the public perception was that BP would solve the problem and stop the spill. And Obama believed it, says Emord. “He didn’t understand the significance or the magnitude of the spill.”
Obama’s biggest mistake, he says, was not stepping forward and taking a strong leadership position. By remaining in the foreground, and relying on agency heads to come up with solutions, he undermined his leadership and the strength of his presidency.
Strong leaders must be willing to put their careers on the line. They must have a strong ideological core. In order to get things done, they have to engage the entire nation in the problem, and inspire knowledgeable Americans to step forward and offer solutions.
Obama failed to fulfill these critical functions, Emord says.” Part of the problem is that he’s captivated by his own self-image. The result is vacuous leadership,” asserts this outspoken attorney – and an unsolved disaster with no viable solution on the horizon.