Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) apologized for and retracted his very public apology to BP, after an afternoon of fury from Republicans and astonished glee from Democrats. Facing party discipline, Barton said he was wrong to describe President Obama's move to make BP set up a $20 billion escrow fund for Gulf oil-spill victims as a "shakedown," and affirmed that BP should "pay for the consequences of their decisions and actions." Will this contain the political blowout? (Watch a Fox report about Barton's gaffe and apology)
Barton just roped the GOP into the BP mess: In the World Cup, Barton's big "blunder" would be "called an own goal," says John Dickerson in Slate, and you can't blame the other team for celebrating. Democrats don't want this year's election to be a referendum on Obama but a choice between two parties, with the GOP "in favor of big corporations and oblivious to the little guy." It's hard to see how Barton could have helped Dems more.
Why is Barton being singled out? Barton's "very dumb" and "tone deaf" apology to BP was "appropriately savaged" by both parties, says Dan Amira in New York Magazine. But his "shakedown" analogy was "hardly original" — several Republicans, including some of his most vocal "friendly fire" critics, had used it before he did. Barton's big gaffe, in the age of YouTube, was making his case with the cameras rolling.
"Why is everyone picking on Joe Barton?"
Republicans should stick up for him: It might be good politics for Barton to walk back his "easily demagogued truth," says John Hawkins in Right Wing News, but that doesn't make it any less true. Yes, BP screwed up and should pay, but Obama's ordering a private company to set the $20 billion, instead of asking, "came across as lawless, creepy, and dictatorial.... What is this, Cuba?"
"Obama’s creepy & dictatorial $20 billion ultimatum to BP"
Republicans needs the middle: The GOP should make its case about presidential overreach, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. But "why, oh why, frame your criticism of Obama and the escrow account as an apology to BP?" Barton was probably "trying to pander to the right by proving himself such a true 'true conservative,'" but siding with the "perpetrators of the oil apocalypse" — on national TV! — is "poison for everyone else in America."
"Barton apologizes for apologizing to BP, sort of"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- How the battle for religious freedom became a nonsensical free-for-all
- Sex can't explain the culture war
- This simple hack for slicing cherry tomatoes will astound you
- How a drafting error could doom Obama's carbon regulations
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
- Why GOP reformers are bound to fail
Subscribe to the Week