As brutal as the BP debacle has been to President Obama’s standing in opinion polls, it could be worse. “They haven’t built a popular new television program around it — yet. No one has created a new media franchise for himself out of it. There isn’t a name for it that has become part of popular culture,” wrote Washington Post columnist David Broder, noting how the Iranian hostage crisis launched ABC’s “Nightline” as it turned President Carter into a “late-night patsy.”
Meanwhile, New York Times columnist Frank Rich explores history and finds opportunity for President Obama in the spill: “If Obama is to have a truly transformative presidency, there could be no better catalyst than oil. Standard Oil jump-started Progressive Era trust-busting. Sinclair Oil’s kickback-induced leases of Wyoming’s Teapot Dome oil fields in the 1920s led to the first conviction and imprisonment of a presidential Cabinet member (Harding’s interior secretary) for a crime committed while in the Cabinet. The Arab oil embargo of the early 1970s and the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 sped the conservation movement and search for alternative fuels. The Enron scandal prompted accounting reforms and (short-lived) scrutiny of corporate Ponzi schemes. This all adds up to a Teddy Roosevelt pivot-point for Obama, who shares many of that president’s moral and intellectual convictions.”
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