Zakaria told CNN, "I think that what he's been doing in recent days has been caving in to this media outcry that he show more emotion and anger and energy in dealing with the problem. And I think the result of it is that you're getting government as theater rather than government that is actually doing something effective.
I enjoy Fareed Zakaria’s show and I think he is an interesting person with much to say. That said, he is simply wrong here on two levels. First, leaders need to lead and often leading can be, and should be, quiet. Leaders as Colin Powell has said need followers. When the followers are frustrated leaders need to demonstrate, through word and deed that they understand that frustration, not merely sympathy, not merely an ability to solve the problem in time, but action and understanding and empathy. They need to say I’m angry too. They need to say I’m frustrated and I’m doing something about it. Calm rationality has its place, but as a corporate lawyer I can tell you that often in an interaction there is a need to pound the table and walk out of the room.
With BP, the frustration has been BPs arrogant disregard for the truth, the consequences to those affected, BP’s own failings in safety and disclosure, and finally the very real possibility that no matter what they do this spill could destroy a way of life for an entire region of the United States. What if BP sprayed the French wine country with a nice coating of oil? What if they drenched Tuscanny in oil? How about if they saturated the Serengeti? How about if they dumped a million barrels of oil on the Alps. Would people be calm and rational then?
Obama needs to be vocal, angry and frustrated as a demonstration of his understanding of the American People’s reaction to a Company that seems incapable of admitting its wrongdoing, allowing us to see it or taking real steps to fix it, but seems to be very capable of lying, obfuscating, hiding, impeding and generally treating everyone from the government to the families of the 11 men who died to the media with disdain, disrespect and arrogance.
Second, there seems on many people’s part to be a complete lack of appreciation for BP’s active role in this and the dangers it poses for safety and regulation in the future. What has come out is that basically BP is a scoff-law. They have lied repeatedly to regulators. They have admitted to criminal violations. They have ignored safety for expediency and they have harassed workers who are whistleblowers. Basically they say, we are big and powerful and nobody will do anything to us. So they are a repeat offender without a care in the world. Their total punishment for this in the last several years appears to amount to a little less than two weeks net income after taxes.
That is completely unacceptable. That should be punished. The government and the President should be extremely angry about it and he should make it clear in no uncertain terms that the time of no consequences is over.Technorati Tags: President,oil,politics,Oil Spill,BP,Zakaria,Obama,energy,government,leaders,Powell,Serengeti,American