Cross-posted from the Wonk Room
Center for American Progress senior fellow Van Jones believes that the American public want to be “called to service” by President Barack Obama to respond to the Gulf oil disaster. Appearing on TV One’s Washington Watch with Roland Martin, Van Jones described the challenge the president faces in moving from responding directly to BP’s environmental catastrophe to providing leadership for the nation. Obama will “use his first Oval Office speech Tuesday night to outline a plan to legally compel BP to create an escrow account to compensate businesses and individuals for their losses from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.” More importantly, Jones said, Obama needs to provide clear leadership for the American people:
The country’s frustrated, and the president has not had his megaphone moment. Remember the last president. After 9-11, people were very frustrated. They said, you know, “Where is the president?” et cetera, et cetera. He couldn’t find his voice. And then he’s stumbling at the megaphone moment. And he stood up, and he said, “They’re gonna hear from us,” you know, “soon.” And then the country said, “Okay. He gets it.”
The president has not yet had his megaphone moment. When he has it, things will calm down, but in the meantime, what we wind up doing is distracting ourselves with, “Was he mad enough?” “Is he not mad enough?” “Well, he said ‘ass.'” “Well, he said ‘jackass’ about Kanye. Well, let’s talk about Kanye.”
People actually just want to be called to service: “What are we supposed to do, Mr. President? And we will do it.” That’s what’s missing.
Obama agrees with Van Jones. “In the same way that our view of our vulnerabilities and our foreign policy was shaped profoundly by 9/11,” the president told Politico, “I think this disaster is going to shape how we think about the environment and energy for many years to come.” Van Jones also predicted that “people are going to be shocked” by Obama’s “passion” in his address to the American public tomorrow:
You’re going to see him down, boots on the ground. You’re going to see him speaking more from his heart, and people are going to be shocked when they actually hear how much passion this president has to see a foreign company come over here, corrupt our government, kill innocent workers, slag up the coastline, destroy the ecology and economy in an American region that has been a jewel for us. When you hear his passion, I think people are going to be shocked. And then we’re not going to be talking about the profanity; we’re going to be talking about the profundity — of having a president that cares as much as the president does care.