Closing the Anger Gap: President Obama Pledges To Find Someone With An “Ass to Kick”

With polls showing the public view of the government’s response to the BP spill as worse than Bush’s response to Katrina and liberals criticizing Obama for not being “more angry” in public, the White House has moved to close the anger gap. Today, Obama is pledging to find an “ass to kick.”

James Carville has publicly attacked the President for his lack of response to the spill. Other friends like Spike Lee have also criticized Obama as being too passive and advised him to publicly “go off” on BP. Bill Maher added “I thought when we elected a black president, we were going to get a black president.”

It appears that the White House is listening and sent out the President to go medieval on someone before polls reach irreversible levels. In his most recent interview, Obama stated “I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar, we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”

This is either a new public stance on the oil spill or the final confirmation of a long rumored bias in the White House against the gentle creatures of Equus africanus asinus. [By the way, there are people in places like Henderson, Texas with a large number of asses to kick].

Of course, with the donkey as the symbol of his own party, the comment could be more prophetic than intended given polls showing a resurgence of the GOP.

I do not happen to be one of those critical of the President for a lack of shouting and posturing — though I do find his overall response to be overall poor. This reminds me of Michael Dukakis being criticized for not pounding the table after a remarkably moronic question from Bernard Shaw about his wife being raped. There is room to criticize Obama for his delay in going down to the Gulf and relatively few visits to the area — as well as the overall weak governmental response. However, I do not need a Nikita Khrushchev banging his shoe on the desk to satisfy my inner angry self.

Even if you wanted more emotion, this type of comment would have been more powerful if you didn’t get the feeling that Axelrod is holding up a board reading “More Anger.”

46 thoughts on “Closing the Anger Gap: President Obama Pledges To Find Someone With An “Ass to Kick”

  1. Obama suffers from the same problem that most intellectuals suffer from, namely, a belief that the rest of the Country always wants a measured, thoughtful response to a crisis. For all his failings, Bush II understood the basic rule of statecraft that is essentially, when the circumstances call for it, you must be pissed off – and show it. It was Churchill’s raison d’être and the essence of his legacy as a strong leader. At some point, the “Populist President” must actually be populist. The problem is, it is contrary to his nature.

  2. Going medieval on BP would be counterproductive to getting the leak stopped. Like it or not, BP is essential in stopping the leak. BP has us over a barrel.

  3. There’s never been anything “populist” about Obama. A creature of the banks early in his carreer, he voted with the credit card companies in revamping bankruptcy laws, then as President voted with the banks to bail them out with no strings, next ratcheted up the doomed war in Afghanistan, then signed the biggest defense authorization bill ever.

  4. KF I think you are right. The credit card vote was a red flag. Obama has never been a populist. Being a populist is not necessarily a good thing although it can be.

  5. I like James Carville, but his emotions overcame his brain when he criticized the president. I’m not sure that Pres. Obama has the ability to get down and dirty with his anger, and if you can’t pull it off properly, it comes across as the sort of cheap pandering that it actually is.

    My father, who was a lifelong Democrat, told me many years ago that he had always regretted not voting for Adlai Stevenson, but that he had shared the general perception that Stevenson was too intellectual and aloof to connect with average people. Perhaps Pres. Obama has the same problem. Passion isn’t like shorthand; it can’t be taught. But kickin’ ass and taking names will not compensate for the economic losses or for the long-term environmental disaster BP has created. My preference is for someone who thinks before speaking and approaches problems in ways that make sense.

  6. Obama, soma bin laden. Translates to Obama on of the same. It is time to put the smoke and mirrors created in the Ronald years and perfected in the Clinton years away. It is time for action. If it takes, taking control of BP NA and placing them in receivership then so be it.

    Then Hugo can say that we own Oil Company’s as well. If you stop and think, if they did not pay their taxes, they would be taken over by the Government. In reality, how can you say that you really own anything? You just have a better right to have and use it…..

  7. If we’d only known this was in our future, we could have all voted for Sen. McCain.

    Now there’s a guy than can show anger!

  8. I don’t think Obama thinks like a populist. Edwards was the populist in that race. People perceived Obama to be a populist.

  9. Kick some ass?

    Start by putting BP into receivership, President Purchased. Then go after the guys you should have gone after in the first place – the guys who did the faulty work that led to this disaster – the fraudulent criminal enterprise of our former VP, Halliburton Cheney. (While you’re at it, arrest Cheney for treason, you spineless corporatist toady.) Follow by arresting Halliburton’s and BP’s CEOs and those underlings criminally responsible for avoiding appropriate safety measures in the first place. Put them on trial. When a guilty verdict is returned, put them in prison for X years with no parole. In a real prison too, not a country club. Place strict safety measures on drilling followed by inspections. If you don’t want to do it right? Then you don’t get to drill at all and some other compliant organization will come along and take their place in the market. Period.

    It’s not rocket science.

    Get to work.

  10. Maybe Obama should declare some BP executives to be terrorists and have them assassinated by a CIA drone.

  11. Speaking as a professional intellectual myself, the problem is not that Obama is intellectualizing the spill, the problem is that Obama is apparently protecting BP.

    It is a lie to say BP has us over a barrel. We have millions (literally) of people working for the government, many of them have senior management experience in the oil industry. The US can take BP into receivership and use its resources however it chooses to do that, including its engineers, and it can pay an entire panel of retired managers from Exxon or other oil companies to be in charge of that operation. We have dozens of professors that TAUGHT this stuff to the BP petroleum and drilling engineers, they would be happy to drop what they are doing and help out, just for the promise of insignificant amounts of NSF funding. We have a wide variety of options, here, and one of them is forcing Hayward and the other top managers aside and seizing their ships and resources to use as we wish until this crisis is over. Hell, even if we just push Hayward aside and have his managers answer to Salazar or Obama, we’d be better off.

    It seems clear to me this crisis is following the standard model. Lots of anger from politicians to get them on TV, promises of breathtaking punishment of the guilty, and as soon as the cameras are turned off a complete erosion of all of that. But make no mistake, we will have a passed bill with a great Orwellian name, “Offshore Oil Punishment Statute” (OOPS) or something like that. It just won’t really DO anything. Hell, Obama cannot even stop the new licensing for offshore drilling RIGHT NOW, and it only promises to supply perhaps 1% of our needs. If we can’t do that NOW, while black crude is washing up on white sand beaches, how in the world can we expect anything to happen once the cameras are off and Rachel Maddow has to move on to covering something else?

    The promises to fix Bush’s mistakes are broken. The promise to fix healthcare insurance is unkept. I contributed to Obama and voted for him in the primary and general. I was conned, he is a liar, a corporatist wolf in populist clothing.

  12. Kind of off topic,but interesting:

    06/04/10 @ 19:20

    Suddenly, Republicans want an active federal government
    By John Farmer
    June 06, 2010, 6:15AM
    For a while there it seemed we were going to be treated to a real debate over the proper size of the federal government, especially how big a role it should have in the national economy. It’s long overdue.

    Everyone understood that Democrats (or most of them) want an activist, expansionist federal government capable of tackling everything from teenage acne to nuclear Armageddon. Likewise, it was widely accepted that Republicans (just about all of them) want to reduce government to a permanent vegetative state. Their differences provided a reassuring sense of certainty — the feeling that no matter how volatile the times, some things never change.

    But that’s all fallen apart in recent days.

    As problems pile up — unemployment, a weak economy, oil in the Gulf of Mexico, a deteriorating Arab-Israeli situation — Republicans are suddenly tripping over each other in the rush to demand not less federal intervention, but more.

    Who’d have guessed it? Especially after watching for a year and a half as Republicans stamped their feet and held their breath (and their votes as well) whenever the Obama administration tried to tackle any problem. Now that’s all changed, it seems.

    The oil flood in the Gulf provides the most dramatic case in point. Before the BP derrick took a swan dive, Republicans were adamant about two things: first, that government keep its regulatory hands off the oil industry and, second, that it should stop blocking the drilling for oil off the coasts. All of them — East, West and Gulf, plus Alaska.

    Remember “drill, baby drill?” It was the mantra of the 2008 Republican National Convention.

    That was then. Now the GOP is in full cry demanding the federales step in, take charge, halt all such drilling and immediately stem the oil flood — as if it could. Only BP and the oil giants have the technology and know-how to handle the crisis. But Republicans, after decades of coddling the oil industry and celebrating its technical skills, have lost faith in their old favorite.

    (AP File Photo)Sarah PalinHow soon they forget. Especially Sarah Palin. Palin, the Barbie doll of American politics, actually attacked President Obama the other day for permitting offshore drilling, only to have television replay her shouted demands — several times — for drilling on land and sea. (A woman’s privilege to change her mind?)

    Job creation is yet another example of how events have tripped up the Grand Old Partisans.
    It’s been received wisdom among Republicans for decades that government doesn’t create jobs, only private enterprise creates jobs. Remember that one?

    They’re correct of course; the private sector, not the federal government, is the real job engine. But that’s an inconvenient idea politically at the moment. So Republicans are busy berating the Obama administration for — brace yourself — not doing enough to create jobs.

    It’s true. Washington hasn’t done enough to gin up the job market. But that’s largely because Congressional Republicans (and some Democrats) oppose providing more of the kind of stimulus money that took some of the early sting out of the Great Recession.

    The demand for a larger presidential role is not limited to domestic problems. Republicans are insisting Obama crack down on Iran and North Korea, but don’t say how that’s possible without significant international cooperation, currently nonexistent. War maybe? And he damn well better solve that Arab-Israeli thing soon, too.

    The need to switch tactics from denying Obama authority to do much of anything — nullifying the 2008 election, in effect — to demanding he do everything has driven some Republicans ’round the bend. Sen. John McCain, desperate to save his Arizona Senate seat, went so far as to blame Obama for the ill-advised Israeli decision to board relief ships bound for Gaza. Now where’d he get that one?

    We’re in a new political environment driven by a spreading sense of national powerlessness. Thus the new Republican demand that Obama act presidential, even that he “take charge,” whether in the Gulf or on jobs.

    They’ve got it right, finally.

    The question is, what took them so long?

  13. I liked Kucinich in 2000 and 2004. I don’t think he is the answer now but at least you are throwing a name out there Buddah.

  14. While I agree that the government’s response to this disaster was slow going from the get-go, I don’t get why people are in such a snit about Obama’s lack of emotion. I also don’t get how this can be considered Obama’s “Katrina.” The Bush Admin’s lack of a sense of urgency resulted in the death of thousands of people, and the decimation of a city, its people and their livelihoods, many of which are still feeling the lack of the governments response. This has, and will continue to have, a huge impact on the environment and people’s livelihoods, but realistically, just short of Obama putting on scuba gear and going to the site himself, what more could his administration have done? I agree that he shouldn’t have relied so heavily on BP’s “experts” from the start, but, since this is BP’s business, I would think since they know how to start the flow of oil, they’d damned sure know how to stop it.

    And, I must agree with BIL – the fault lies directly with those who constructed the rig, owned the rig, and who leased the rig. I also feel that Ken Salazar bears some responsibility as well, as it appears he didn’t do much to curb corruption in the MMS, which also has fault written all over it.

    That said, I’d rather have a president who is calm under pressure, thinks before he acts, listens to all sides before making a decision, and doesn’t have a knee-jerk reaction to every crisis, and doesn’t find the need to put forth chest-thumping, fake bravado. Give me brains over brawn any day of the week.

  15. Like the brain damaged bear that defecates in his own cave, only a congenitally degenerate predator like Uncle Sam would spend $400 per gallon for gas to operate his combat vehicles in one of the poorest countries on Earth while allowing 25,000 barrels of poison per day to gush up onto his beaches.

    The irony is that if the political spectrum of debate were a mile wide — Americans only utilize an inch.

    The corporate propaganda machine in the US is so omnipotent that Nazis like Goebells would have been proud.

    http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/63407-400gallon-gas-another-cost-of-war-in-afghanistan-

  16. The ties that bind.

    Remember Rahm Emanuel’s rent-free D.C. apartment?

    The owner: A BP adviser

    Top of the Ticket
    Politics and commentary, coast to coast, from the Los Angeles Times

    « Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »
    The ties that bind. Remember Rahm Emanuel’s rent-free D.C. apartment? The owner: A BP adviser
    June 7, 2010 | 3:34 pm

    Democrat president Barack Obama’s White house chief of staff Rahm Emanuel peeks through an open door

    In case you were tempted to buy the faux Washington outrage at BP and its gulf oil spill in recent days, here’s a story that reveals a little-known corporate political connection and the quiet way the inner political circles intersect, protect and care for one another in the nation’s capital. And Chicago.

    We already knew that BP and its folks were significant contributors to the record $750-million war chest of Barack Obama’s 2007-08 campaign.

    Now, we learn the details of a connection of Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago mayoral wannabe, current Obama chief of staff, ex-representative, ex-Clinton money man and ex-Windy City political machine go-fer.

    Shortly after Obama’s happy inaugural, eyebrows rose slightly upon word that, as a House member, Emanuel had lived the last five years rent-free in a D.C. apartment of Democratic colleague Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and her husband, Stanley Greenberg.

    For an ordinary American, that would likely raise some obvious tax liability questions. But like Emanuel, the guy overseeing the Internal Revenue Service now is another Obama insider, Tim Geithner, who had his own outstanding tax problems but skated through confirmation anyway by the Democratic-controlled Congress.

    Remember this was all before the letters BP stood for Huge Mess. Even before the Obama administration gave BP a safety award.

    Now follow these standard Washington links if you can:

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/06/rahm-emanuel-bp-gul-oil-spill.html

  17. Kucinich made some awful mistakes as Mayor of Cleveland but he went off into the wilderness for awhile and learned from them … he’s a worthy candidate for any elected position.

  18. I don’t know if Obama is capable of rising above the political considerations of this moment as Truman was able to do when he desegregated the Armed Forces and then, later, fired General Douglas MacArthur.

    This BP situation is going to require some real courage in leadership and a strong sense of justice. Sadly, I can’t, with confidence, say that Obama has either. I can only hope.

  19. Kucinich is a loyal democrat and I don’t think Obama has to worry about him taking the nomination from him.

  20. Whelp, Erbamugh cain kick all them A’s he wants but if’n he wants the most kick outta this debackill, he must gore some corporate oxes–especially them with oily fangers.

  21. Swarthmore mom

    Kucinich is a loyal democrat and I don’t think Obama has to worry about him taking the nomination from him.

    =============================================================

    Absolutely not … the Democratic Party has been very good to Dennis and he, in turn, is a good democrat. But, had he triumphed over Hilary and Obama, he would have been an excellent president.

  22. “But, had he triumphed over Hilary and Obama, he would have been an excellent president.”

    And Cheney and his traitorous Secret Energy Task Force members would be in the dock already, either on trial or awaiting trial. Kucinich knows treason when he sees it.

  23. Obama see polls want him to get angry, Obama gets angry.

    If he was any kind of leader he would have been angry long ago.

    Anyways, the president’s emotional state is a distraction from the real stories in politics, or even about the real story of the BP disaster. Let’s focus on what the real problem is: the unholy state-corporate alliance — and let’s fix it.

  24. FFLEO, the real issue may be getting uglier and if it is, why are we seeing reprints of foreign stories? Maybe the way it works is that there’s always oil leaking into the Gulf and unless it’s massive it doesn’t even get reported.

    “Coast Guard to probe report of new Gulf spill: official
    By Agence France-Presse
    Tuesday, June 8th, 2010 — 1:20 pm

    NEW ORLEANS — US authorities will investigate reports that another oil spill is sullying Gulf of Mexico waters not far from the site of the BP disaster, the top official overseeing the cleanup and containment effort said Tuesday.

    The Press Register newspaper based in the Gulf city of Mobile, Alabama, was one of several US news outlets reporting that a second spill had occurred at the Ocean Saratoga rig operated by the Diamond Offshore drilling company.

    Asked about the spill, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen told a press conference here: “We’re going to get detailed information and we’ll release a statement later on it.

    The Press Register reported that a crew boat was seen spraying dispersant on a slick emanating from the drilling rig, which operates in deep water about 12 miles (19 kilometers) off the tip of Louisiana.

    The newspaper said it had obtained a federal document showing that the leak, which it said has generated a 10 mile (16 kilometer) long oil slick, has been ongoing since April 30.”

    http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0608/coast-guard-probe-report-gulf-spill-official/

  25. “Kucinich 2012”!!!!

    I like Kucinich….but he is also an intellectual who is passionate but measured. If he runs, and is actually allowed to participate (when will the debates be given back to the LWV?)I for 1 will vote for him…and then we can all watch, sadly, as the political whores in Washington tear up any success he may have by noncompliance and non-cooperation…….so what would be so different from now????

    I’ve heard that BP all of a sudden is promising ‘just a trickle’ in the very near future…will they be allowed any profits from all the oil they commander from this spill?

    Meanwhile…there are fractures threatening and new pressure leaks occurring on the sea floor…I can’t fathom what this could mean other than this could become a bigger dead zone than anyone can imagine and I’m guessing at some point the ‘developers’ are going to come in and build something….solid….hey maybe this is the beginning of a new landfill….

  26. I have been following Dennis Kucinich’s career since 1969 when he was elected to Cleveland’s City Council. He has maintained a strong liberal perspective throughout his many years in government.

  27. Some people think that the latest attempt at capping the well may have created fizzures in the sediment alongside the pipe under the sea bed, which are now opening and leaking even more oil seeping into the Gulf.

    Also, I remember that when this first happened, Norway and a number of other countries offered skimmers and other oil cleanup equipment to clean up the mess and Obama turned the offer down. When Obama was interviewed on the Today show, he asked “what could I have done that I didn’t do?” Well, he could have accepted the offer from Norway and other countries to come to our assistance. God knows we’re always ready to help with other countries’ disasters, why shouldn’t they help us? Phony pride?

    There was an LSU oceanographer on Chris Matthews last night and he said that once the oil got into the grass and mangrove swamps, it would be impossible to clean and that the most important thing was, as he put it, “to get every skimmer in the world down in the Gulf working to catch the oil before it hits shore”. Maybe NOW we should be accepting these offers of help.

  28. Deficit. Not so complicated or painful to end. Quit spending $400 per gallon on fuel for the military in Afghanistan and bring all the troops in the MidEast, Korea, & Europe home now. Then stop all the aid to Egypt & Israel. That’d be a great start. But no, it’ll be more of the same and then some combined with austerity measures for peopel who have to work for a living.

  29. Karl Freidrich:

    Can I add to your post?

    Quit giving Halliburton, et al billions in what amounts to bullsh*t charges. We pay these thieves $100 a bottle of water to deliver to our troops. Hell, I’ll deliver the water for MUCH less. They electrocute our soldiers – we find that their actions amount to negligent homicide, yet we STILL pay them for infinitely marked up, shoddy construction work – WTF??

    Quit giving billions to the mercenaries at Blackwater, or whatever the hell Templar Prince is calling it these days.

  30. Yes, of course, I forgot to add eliminating bailouts & bonuses but also the hundreds of billions every year in “public” subsidies to “private” corporations, you know, like making free market capitalists practice what they preach.

    The crooks at Halliburton & the murderous mecenaries at BlackWater (Prince ought to just change the name to a symbol like the other Prince) would be eliminated through the act of troops home now.

    We then employ all the returning troops (and then some) by treating the Gulf Oil spill cleanup like a military operation, you know, like our country was in danger.

    BP will be footing the bill, along with Halliburton & others, who will also be forced to pay back billions in military overcharges to help pay down the deficit.

    The problem with implementing these simple plans is that the greed of the bourgeousie in America is matched only by the spinelessness of its politicians.

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