Opinion Brief

BP oil spill: Obama's 9/11?

The New York Times' Thomas Friedman says the president is squandering an opportunity to mobilize Americans toward far-reaching goals in the wake of disaster — as Bush did after the 2001 terrorist attacks

As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill spreads, President Obama's handling of the disaster is coming under fire from all sides. Scientists want more information, and conservatives have batted about the term "Obama's Katrina." But New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says the more pertinent analogy is "Obama's 9/11": President Bush's "greatest failure," says Friedman, was his failure to translate Americans' response to 9/11 into a nation-building initiative. "President Obama seems intent on squandering his environmental 9/11" the same way. Is Friedman's criticism fair?

Absolutely — Obama's blowing a chance to promote green energy: The Obama administration's "flaccid response" has been "one of the most baffling things about the BP Gulf oil disaster," says David Roberts in Grist. President Obama seems desperate to contain both the spill and "the American people's anger." That's crazy — Obama should be channeling the public's "outrage" to push through clean energy reforms."Friedman nails Obama for his timid response to the 'environmental 9/11'"

Outrage? What outrage? The Gulf oil spill is indeed "an opportunity" for Obama to tap American will to kick our addiction to oil, says Jamal Simmons in The Huffington Post, but Thomas Friedman is jumping the gun. "The crisis has yet to hit home for most Americans," so there's no outrage to "harness" — yet. But the anger will be there when the oil hits shore, and that's when the White House should be ready with "a bold plan.""Friedman asks: Where is the plan? Maybe it's waiting on the outrage"

Obama shouldn't wait — he should lead: Obama should be getting started now, say the editors of the Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier. There's already a consensus that we "need to strengthen our energy-conservation efforts," yet "we keep wasting precious fuel, time and money while lagging recklessly behind other major industrial nations in that critical competition." Now there's no excuse. By waiting, Obama is "has further muddied the congressional to-do list." His job is to lead."Jump-start the energy debate"

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