Obama’s BP spill speech

(Read the transcript here)

I don’t want to spend too much time criticizing and nitpicking the President’s speech last night. After all, no amount of speeches will stop the oil leak or clean up the ocean and the coastlines. Obama did, however, miss an opportunity to move beyond generic campaign rhetoric about the American spirit and the need to move away from our dependence on oil. After all, we’ve heard the same message about moving to alternative fuels from Presidents dating back to at least the 1970s.

So Obama, what is it that we’re going to actually do this time? You could have and should have given concerned Americans an environmental plan to rally behind. Instead you gave us something eerily similar to Bush’s speeches about Iraq. Here’s the template: Explain the challenges facing America, vaguely describe how the government is meeting the challenge, tell the American people that their unique awesomeness will ultimately solve the problem (bonus points for mentioning World War II),  and make sure to leave out anything specific the American people should do.

Just off the top of my head I can think of a few things he could have said:

  1. Next time you buy a car, get one that gets over 30mpg. Don’t buy an SUV or truck unless you “need” it.
  2. Carpool to work, or take a bike or ride public transportation.
  3. Use water filters instead of buying bottled water.
  4. Replace aging appliances with energy efficient models that will save you money in the long run.
  5. Don’t keep the air conditioning in your house set to 65° in the Summer.

Make it clear that not doing these kinds of things leads directly to environmental catastrophes, but also helps fuel Middle East dictators and terrorism. Make it the duty of Americans to play their part… you know, like we did when we conserved in World War II.


  1. Ian

    If he had said any of those things, people would cry “Nanny state!” and “Government needs to stay out of my business!” Also you have to remember, there are people who honestly and truly believe that global warming is a hoax cooked up by corporations to push a “green agenda” that will net them profit. I have met people who truly believe this in spite of all reason, and honestly think Al Gore cooked it up.

    You can’t change the average person’s behavior in regards to the environment by relying on their conscience. You have to make it matter where it counts: their wallet. Make alternative energy cheaper and affordable. Invest more in research and development of these technologies. Create jobs by investing in these industries!

  2. Chris

    The Glenn Beck crowd is going to cry “Nanny state!” or worse no matter what Obama says. That’s why he should just speak honestly and directly to the non-crazies.

    On a related note, isn’t it funny that rightwingers claim to both be terrified of big government and yet are complaining that Obama isn’t doing enough to stop the spill?