La fuga de petróleo en el Golfo de México parece confirmar que el presidente no está en control de lo que está sucediendo. Si bien en algún momento de su administración su fortaleza era ocuparse y preocuparse de los problemas de largo plazo (como la reforma al sistema de salud y el sistema financiero), ahora eso es visto como una debilidad. La fuga de petróleo requiere atención inmediata y al ciudadano norteamericano le está empezando a parecer que el presidente no tiene idea de como resolverlo.
Aquí algunos párrafos de la columna de Peggy Noonan (He Was Supposed to be Competent) que hoy publica en el Wall Street Journal y que resume estas percepciones:
The original sin in my view is that as soon as the oil rig accident happened the president tried to maintain distance between the gusher and his presidency. He wanted people to associate the disaster with BP and not him... In any case, the strategy was always a little mad. Americans would never think an international petroleum company based in London would worry as much about American shores and wildlife as, say, Americans would. They were never going to blame only BP, or trust it...
... Katrina did at least two big things politically. The first was draw together everything people didn't like about the Bush administration, everything it didn't like about two wars and high spending and illegal immigration, and brought those strands into a heavy knot that just sat there, soggily, and came to symbolize Bushism. The second was illustrate that even though the federal government in our time has continually taken on new missions and responsibilities, the more it took on, the less it seemed capable of performing even its most essential jobs. Conservatives got this point—they know it without being told—but liberals and progressives did not. They thought Katrina was the result only of George W. Bush's incompetence and conservatives' failure to "believe in government." But Mr. Obama was supposed to be competent.
... What continues to fascinate me is Mr. Obama's standing with Democrats. They don't love him. Half the party voted for Hillary Clinton, and her people have never fully reconciled themselves to him. But he is what they have. They are invested in him. In time—after the 2010 elections go badly—they are going to start to peel off. The political operative James Carville, the most vocal and influential of the president's Gulf critics, signaled to Democrats this week that they can start to peel off. He did it through the passion of his denunciations.
The disaster in the Gulf may well spell the political end of the president and his administration, and that is no cause for joy. It's not good to have a president in this position—weakened, polarizing and lacking broad public support—less than halfway through his term.