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Obama's First Oval Office Address: A Personal Decision to Focus on Gulf Spill

4 years ago
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As the BP oil spill catastrophe drags on into its ninth week with no clear end in sight, President Obama personally decided to make his first ever nationally televised address from the Oval Office, to be delivered live at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday.
On Air Force One en route to Biloxi, Miss., on Monday, Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton said the president wanted to use the historic setting of the Oval Office because "what we're seeing in the Gulf is a catastrophe the likes of which we've never seen before."
Previewing the speech, Burton said, "The president is going to talk directly with the American people about some of the steps that we've taken to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf, some of the things we've done to mitigate the damage that's caused by the oil that's spilled out already and what we're going to do moving forward here, how we're going to help to make the people of Mississippi and Alabama and Florida and all these states in the Gulf whole again as a result of the damage that's been caused.
"He'll talk a little bit about workers' safety. He'll talk to them about food safety, as well, to make sure that the American people know that we're doing everything that we can, that we're monitoring in each and every place possible to ensure that folks are made whole, that the American people are kept safe," Burton said.
Asked about the significance of Obama's first Oval Office address, Burton said, "What we're seeing in the Gulf is a catastrophe the likes of which our country has never seen before, so the response has been enormous, the assets and the full power of the federal government has been brought to bear here, and so talking directly with the American people about what we're doing to address this crisis and what we're going to be doing moving forward is very important to the president right now."
That Obama has yet to use Oval Office for a speech, as other presidents have on issues that have gripped the nation, demonstrates how devastating the White House views the oil spill and how its response, for better or worse, may define the Obama presidency.
Barack Obama, Haley BarbourPresidential historian Douglas Brinkley, in an interview with Politics Daily, said Obama's decision on addressing the nation is significant because "the Oval Office provides the aura of huge national importance."

"This is his fourth visit to the Gulf and he is making many speeches in the region," Brinkley said. "What he has to do is show he has collected anecdotes, facts and eyewitness accounts and bring them back to Washington and use the ultimate bully pulpit, the Oval Office prime time address to the nation as his venue."
Brinkley said the Oval Office setting "offers gravitas and a way to communicate to the American public (that the catastrophe) is of great importance to the nation, particularly when President Obama gives so many interviews and seems to give a speech a day."
Obama, who Brinkley called "one of our most visible presidents" will deliver remarks about the spill from Alabama at 4:40 p.m. eastern time on Monday. Obama overnights in Pensacola on a swing taking him to Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.
A key element in Obama's Oval Office speech -- and in a meeting on Wednesday with the BP chairman and chief executive Carl-Henric Svanberg -- will be establishing a BP-funded escrow account administered by a third party to handle claims.
"The President will make clear that he expects, and that if necessary (he) will exercise his full legal authority to ensure, that BP sets aside the funds required to pay individuals and businesses damaged by this massive spill and that those funds will be paid out under fair, efficient, and transparent procedures administered by an independent third-party panel established just for this purpose," a White House spokesman told Politics Daily. "
White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod said Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, "We're at a kind of inflection point in this saga because we now know that what -- essentially what we can do and what we can't do in terms of collecting oil and, and what lies ahead in the next few months, and he wants to lay out the steps that we're going to take from here to get through this, through this crisis."

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Tracie

In his speech in the Oval Office last night, Obama lied, AGAIN to the American public. He said that 'for decades, we've known that fossil fuels would be used up'. LIE, Mr. President...according to Kipplinger Magazine, the U.S. has enough oil reserves to power us for 300 years, without having to import ANY oil from OPEC. There is enough in CO., UT., and WY. to power the U.S. for 200 years. There is 2.3 trillion bbls of untapped oil. 3 times more than OPEC.
NOW!!! Mr. President, you want to try that AGAIN? This time TELL THE TRUTH. Don't try to sell America short just so you can push your climate change agenda, which is ALSO a lie.

June 16 2010 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
ssanders1950

has everyone forgot that obama approved offshore oil drilling months before oil spill?...........

June 15 2010 at 6:16 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Randy

My only advice to Obama in these difficult situations is, Winners take responsibility and lead. Losers blame others!

June 15 2010 at 9:23 AM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
laidbach

I am curious as to what is going to happen when a tropical storm or even worse a hurricane picks the oil up and spreads into plant life and covers homes...oil is lighter than water which means we will experience oil rain. The insurance companies will bail out most assuredly and this means the gulf coast will become a dead zone...so very sad!

June 15 2010 at 6:43 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
crownsplitta

ANd why wouldnt he talk about the Gulf Spill? Its another perfect example of what happens in the United States when there is no over sight, no regulations and the MME is corrupt. Oil spills have more than doubled since 2000. There is no difference between the Gulf and Wall Street. Both perfect examples of what happens when regulatory branch is reduced to nothing and the very ones regulating are asleep or high at the switch. And now I wish just one of you would research and find out which party is no proposing that WE the tax payers bail out BP with the clean up. Its John Boehner (R) from Ohio. GO figure.

June 15 2010 at 5:38 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
Ted

This oil spill has been going on to long. Why hasn't the goverment stepped in and taken more control. I live on the West Coast of Florida where fishing is a living for people. We want more to be done. I'm not a fisherman, but I do have a large pleasure boat. Who do I turn to for repairs when the oil damages my boat?

June 14 2010 at 10:42 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ted's comment
xxo1984

Yeah, and Why did the Coast Guard show up to Prevent the clean up crews from immediately dispensing the booms meant to stop the oil from entering the fish estuary area's? According to some workers on-sight, the Coast Guard sat there and passed the booms from ship to ship "to count them" for five days! At the same time, the Governors on the Gulf states were not Allowed to put up their own barriers, etc. Something smells rotten..

June 15 2010 at 3:54 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
bbbsquared

He better focus: Evidence is mounting that BP's actions fractured the rock strata around the wellhead, which is a whole different order of magnitude for this disaster.

Fractured strata means that there could be hundreds of leak-points, which will be impossible to contain. Drilling relief wells won't work if the rock down thousands of feet is fractured.

We may well have to implode that whole area to collapse the strata on itself. That will require a nuke!

June 14 2010 at 10:13 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
sgdbaty13

Here is something for everyone to chew on. The dispersment chemicals being used to break up the oil look like food to the fish. The fish eat the chemicals then we eat the fish. The long term health care cost of this accident is immeasurable. This insanity of drilling off shore has to end now.

June 14 2010 at 9:42 PM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sgdbaty13's comment
Tracy

And if we end it now, what then? we walk 30 miles a day to work, because I don't know about you but I don't live in the city, that means no mass transit which by the way would also need oil! You do realize that none of the alternative energy sources work that well or all the time for that matter, so while the stop drilling now chants seem to be getting louder no one has an immediate solution. You also realize that without oil to power our cars, vans, trucks, school buses just to name a few, the entire country comes to a standstill, not having fish to eat will be the least of our problems.

June 14 2010 at 10:36 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
sysaphus71

So today we find out that the Dutch offered to send 20 skimmers with about 500k gallon a day capacity ... offer turned down
The DUTCH offered to send dredges to build the berms on day 3 ...offer turned down
I guess it must be REALLY HARD to waive the Jones act.
I won't be surprised if they knew how to plug the hole too! Best to not find out that that was turned down too.
The President is everything but an executive and THATS what he is SUPPOSED to be!

June 14 2010 at 9:38 PM Report abuse +16 rate up rate down Reply
janetchinz

President Obama is our Commander in Chief regardless of whether or not you voted for him. He needs to demonstrate leadership and accountability when it comes to this disaster. Some of his comments seem quite dismissive to me when he talks about how the ecosystem is strong and it will come back in one to three years. That is very long time when you are a fisherman in the region. I appreciate his optimism and I'm confident that he's correct. That doesn't provide immediate relief or solutions, however. http://www.janethinz.com

June 14 2010 at 9:11 PM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply

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