The ongoing oil eruption off the Gulf Coast is shaping up to be one of the worst environmental disasters in American history. It’s now clear that BP had no credible plan in place to deal with a spill of this magnitude at this depth. They thought it couldn’t happen and now they don’t know how to fix it. Up to 25,000 barrels a day are pouring into Gulf waters and could do so for months if not capped. Satellite images show that the slick has tripled in size over the past two days. If it can’t be controlled, the oil could eventually work its way into the Gulf Stream and head toward the Atlantic — toward Florida.
What do some of the leading lights of conservative thought have to say on these matters?
Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, was unconcerned on an April 29 Fox News panel. “The oil spill, itself, I don’t think will be a huge disaster over the medium and long term, honestly.” Having assessed the disaster thusly, he worried whether the public and politicians will be “grown up enough … not to let one incident drive policy.” After all, Kristol noted, offshore drilling is “very environmentally clean, except when there is a disaster like the spill.”
Former half-term governor of Alaska Sarah Palin was pained, on Facebook. She was “shocked and saddened,” her “heart breaks.” Her husband, Mr. Palin, offered that the incident was “heartbreaking.” She agreed that it was so. Heart broken, she nonetheless forges on to note that “accidents happen” and that despite an ecosystem lost here, industry lost there, drilling makes us a “more secure, prosperous, and peaceful nation.”
Rush Limbaugh said the spill “might have been intentional” — that is, the work of eco-saboteurs. The Obama administration is “open to the possibility that this could well have been on purpose,” as evidenced by the SWAT teams Obama was sending. “Don’t forget, the original Earth Day, 40 years ago, was inspired by the river in Cleveland catching fire,” Rush noted. “Forty years later, the day before Earth Day this year, the Gulf is on fire. Coincidence? Jury’s still out.” Indeed.
Such were the words of the right’s leading thinkers. What of their political class? For the most part the Republican political establishment ducked its head and said “no comment.” One exception was the new governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell (R), always fleet of political foot, who said, “Every time there’s an airplane crash, we don’t say, ‘Well, we don’t fly airplanes anymore.'”
GOP 2010: You Don’t Stop Driving.