Friday, June 04, 2010


I probably shouldn't read too much into the fact that The Wall Street Journal has published an op-ed by Tony Hayward, the CEO of BP -- our major-media op-ed pages always leave the welcome mat out for movers and shakers who are in trouble and want to present the best rebuttal their PR consultants can concoct. However, I can't help wondering, perhaps because the op-ed is in the Murdoch press: If BP does get the spill under control, or at least manages to curtail it, within weeks rather than many, many months, will the right-wing noise machine proclaim that Hayward was unjustly maligned (primarily by "liberals," of course)? Will the wingers say that (unlike the hapless Obama administration!) BP tried its damnedest and eventually succeeded, therefore demonstrating that government is still evil and private industry is still wonderful?

And if so, won't the talking points sound a lot like Hayward's op-ed?

... The industry and the government did not anticipate this type of accident -- one in which all the "failsafe" mechanisms failed. When it happened, we immediately brought the global resources of BP to bear on the dual challenge of stopping a blown-out oil well at a depth no human could reach while at the same time seeking to contain the resulting flow of oil and gas.

And as the scope of the unfolding disaster became more apparent, we reached out for additional scientists and engineers from our partners and competitors in the energy industry, engineering firms, academia, government and the military.

With the exception of the space program in the 1960s, it is difficult to imagine the gathering of a larger, more technically proficient team in one place in peacetime....

This would fit perfectly with several ideas the right is at great pains to push: that government is toxic and shouldn't be in charge of anything (yes, everyone's demanding government intervention now, even right-wingers, but that has to change soon), that Obama is inept, that all Obama is destroying capitalism by accident or design (see Bobby Jindal complaining about expected job losses as a result of the Obama administration's ban on offshore drilling), and that quite possibly even the administration's failure to force an end to the crisis was part of a sinister conspiracy to block drilling and force cap-and-trade on an unsuspecting public.

No Hayward rehab will be possible if the oil gushes until winter, wending its way to the Atlantic (and perhaps even Europe). But if there's some success soon, I think they'll try to tell us Hayward was verbally maladroit but ultimately admirable. Hey, it's no more far-fetched than the ongoing right-wing efforts to rehab the reputation of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, iright?

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