It could be argued that President George W. Bush was the greatest environmental president in the last 100 years. During the Bush years air pollution levels in every category fell from 2001 to 2007.
But, that's not all…
One of the most significant environmental tragedies of the late 20th Century was the destruction of the Mesopotamian Marshes by Saddam Hussein. The Iraqi marshes were the largest wetland ecosystem of Western Eurasia. The genocidal dictator drained thousands of miles of southern Iraqi marshland after the 1991 War and slaughtered the Marsh Arabs who lived there. But after Iraq was liberated from their brutal tyrant the US restored the region. George W. Bush resurrected the marshes. In early 2003, less than 10% of the Mesopotamian Marshlands remained. By early 2004, 40% of the marshlands had been re-flooded. Since the liberation of Iraq the marshes have been restored to over 85% of their former glory.
A photogragh in 1977 of the marshlands before Saddam drained the land of water. (Nik Wheeler)
Contrast this resurrection story to what we are witnessing today.
40 plus days ago, a BP rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing 11 workers. Since that time the underwater well has been leaking hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into the waters off the Gulf coast. And, where has Barack Obama been during this time? On vacation, playing golf and basketball, partying with rock stars and threatening BP. Instead of initiating a proactive approach to the disaster, Team Obama has ignored, downplayed, and passed the buck on the worst environmental disaster in American history. If you taught Leadership 101 this would be a great example of Exactly NOT what to do.
Crude oil has already been reported along barrier islands in Alabama and Mississippi, and has impacted about 125 miles of Louisiana coastline. Today the oil slick is expected to reach the pristine white sand beaches of Pensacola Beach, Florida. How sad.
Bush restored the Iraqi marshes. Obama destroyed the US marshes.
Okay, let's grant that these words are true (this is purely hypothetical, of course). How do his actions line up with his professed singular focus on 'the spill'?
Those who think that we were either slow on our response or lacked urgency don't know the facts. This has been our highest priority since this crisis occurred.
Personally, I'm briefed every day, and have probably had more meetings on this issue than just about any issue since we did our Afghan review. And we understood from day one the potential enormity of this crisis, and acted accordingly.
So when it comes to the moment this crisis occurred moving forward, this entire White House and this entire federal government has been singularly focused on how do we stop the leak and how do we prevent and mitigate the damage to our coastlines. …
And so my job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about — the spill.
The web site PolitiPage gives its readers a pictorial of Obama's days and nights for each of the days following the Gulf spill until three days after Obama's press conference. According to my count, the days and nights of Obama during the crisis have involved:Um...singular focus? Really?
- Two days of media events (White House Correspondents Dinner and a tête a tête with Bono)
- Three days of fundraising
- Four commemorations
- Six days of vacation
- Six days of campaigning
- Six sports events
- Seven days of golf
Here's a video that really helps illustrate that singular focus:
Wow. Such dedication is very reassuring, don't you think? One can only hope that he applies similar dedication to the nuclear emergence of Iran, the defense of our ally Israel, staring down Russian aggression, the War on Terror, and the daunting economic problems we face...
There's my two cents.