Deepwater Horizon is NOT Comparable to Hurricane Katrina

The news readers and pundits keep trying to draw parallels between the Deepwater Horizon oil gusher and Hurricane Katrina.  The way they look at it, they both have to do with water and Louisiana, and with the federal government’s ability to solve a problem or at least ameliorate a bad situation. They’re looking at the politics of Presidential action, not the physics of the two “disasters.”

Of course, they also note the differences–Bush was too slow to visit the scene (2 days), while Obama’s measured response time of 12 days was about right.  Bush’s FEMA botched the response and recovery process, but FEMA is rarely mentioned this time, while blame is heaped upon BP Oil and (gasp) George W. Bush.  Bush didn’t care about the black residents of New Orleans, but Obama cares so much about all the residents of southern Louisiana that he thinks about them and the oil spill when he wakes up in the morning and when he goes to bed each night, and every minute of the day between.  (That’s a rough quote from this morning’s radio news or hyperbole; it doesn’t show up on the internet.  I wonder when he has time to think about North Korea, golf, Iran, dinner dates in New York, Israel, vacation, Arizona laws, visiting basketball teams, Cap and Tax, Memorial Day tributes, Osama, playing basketball, Major Hasssan, trials in New York….  I guess that’s why he has geniuses like Eric Holder working for him–so he doesn’t have to think.)

Nevertheless, they are missing the obvious.  There is a corresponding disaster which compares quite nicely to the Deepwater Horizon oil gusher–illegal immigration.  They both originate from a high-pressure force which pushes something valuable towards our shores, but not in a controlled manner.  The lack of control turns the valuable resource into an overwhelming deluge.

In both cases, the problem divides itself neatly into two sub-problems–How do we stop the flow? and What do we do with the resource that’s already escaped/broken through?

Strangely, Obama recognizes that in the case of oil, the first step necessary is to “Plug the da** hole!” yet he refuses to acknowledge that the same is true of the immigration problem.  In both cases he has no idea that he’ll share with us about what to do with the deluge that’s already here, nor does he have any idea about how to prevent more of the same in the future.

So far, he’s addressing both problems with the same weapon, that of threatening lawsuits, threatening jail time, threatening fines, and generally interfering with the attempts others are making to really solve the problems or at least mitigate their effects.  Like the Chicago pol that he is, he’s looking for scapegoats, not solutions.  He is in fact treating both problems as if they were political in nature, rather than one being based on engineering design shortcomings (possibly) and the other being a dilemma of human psychology.  Because he’s trying to reach an acceptable political goal rather than correct the problems, he isn’t getting anywhere, and it’s painfully obvious.

Of course the two disasters are only superficially parallel (although closer to each other than to Katrina).  Each eventually will be solved by different approaches.  Deepwater Horizon will be solved most quickly if Obama lets as many engineers as possible try as many ideas as possible all at once.  We should be trying to stanch the flow of oil, ASAP, of course, and we appear to be doing that.  But there’s no reason we shouldn’t be trying to soak up, sop up, suck up, and round up the oil that’s in the water at the same time.  Better that it is removed from the water before it hits land than have to clean it from the beaches.  The resources are available to take this two-pronged approach to protect the Gulf Coast.  This part of the solution is NOT being carried out.  There’s no political downside to this approach, and it’s mind-boggling that Obama is flubbing another opportunity to improve his personal approval numbers.*

The resources are not available to treat illegal “immigration” “comprehensively.”  Oil doesn’t know what is happening.  It just gushes, floats, and coats.  People aren’t that simple.  There are both psychological and political aspects to stopping illegal “immigration.”  Simply put, to address the problem of those who are already here before we permanently and credibly stop the flow of new illegals would be counterproductive, given our lack of will to fund the process.  Psychologically, it would increase the pressure driving Mexicans to enter the US illegally, and it wouldn’t be supported by a skeptical US electorate.  To convince Americans that we are serious about the bigger problem (a political necessity), we must solve the inflow problem first, and do it in a way that can’t be easily reversed.  That will “cap” the psychological and social pressure that is pushing foreigners across the border and into the US.  Then and only then can the question of what to do with present illegals be answered.

Because Obama isn’t willing to take the political heat such an effective psychological solution would entail, he also can’t employ an effective political strategy.  The result?  Finger-pointing, threats, and dithering.

*The fact that he hasn’t taken charge in this respect and doesn’t even recognize what’s happening proves that he has neither natural leadership ability nor competent advisors that he listens to.