Andrew Sullivan Blasts Peggy Noonan

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Ben Cohen
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Andrew Sullivan writes a scathing response to Peggy Noonan's assertion that Obama's failure to fix the broken pipe in the Gulf spells the end of his presidency:

The premise of Noonan's moronic column is that the federal government,
especially the president, should be capable of ending an oil-pipe
rupture owned and operated by private companies, using technology that
only deep-sea oil companies deploy or understand. And if such a
technical issue is not resolved by government immediately, it reveals
paralyzing presidential weakness and the failure of an entire branch of
political philosophy. Again: seriously? It's Obama's
fault that under Bush and Cheney, government regulation of oil
exploration was so poor and corrupt, corner cutting appears to have been
routine? And this, Peggy, is what governments do, even when run by
crazy-ass liberals. Governments do not dig for oil; they merely regulate
those who dig for oil. That the government failed to do so under the
previous administration does not seem to me to be proof that this
administration has failed.

I don't think Obama has handled the crisis in the Gulf particularly well (he should have stripped BP of all decision making immediately) but for a small government conservative like Noonan to come out with this sort of tripe is simply ridiculous. Noonan speaks in that highly sophisticated Joe Klein 'I'm very clever' language to mask the fact that she doesn't really understand government very well at all. Noonan focuses on the superficial political games played by image makers and political handlers and doesn't really get how concrete policies effect people. Just check out the following paragraph:

In his news conference Thursday, President Obama made his position no
better. He attempted to act out passionate engagement through the use of
heightened language—"catastrophe," etc.—but repeatedly took refuge in
factual minutiae. His staff probably thought this demonstrated his
command of even the most obscure facts. Instead it made him seem like
someone who won't see the big picture. The unspoken mantra in his head
must have been, "I will not be defensive, I will not give them a
resentful soundbite." But his strategic problem was that he'd already
lost the battle. If the well was plugged tomorrow, the damage will
already have been done.

Hmmm. So the President of the United States showing that he understands how complex the problem is makes him out of touch? Having suffered 8 years of a 'Big Picture' President who spoke only in broad terms without any attention to detail, it is quite refreshing for Americans to have a President who actually understands what his government is doing. For Noonan, politics is not about people or facts, but about acting and perception. Which is fine if you like that sort of thing, but when it comes to millions of gallons of oil leaking into the Gulf, I'll take a President who understands the science of the problem over the politics.