Opinion: 4th time: See Obama see the oil spill. Hear Obama talk the oil spill. So, what’ll he say tonight?


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What are you doing over here reading about the oil spill’s impact on the faltering Obama presidency when he spent the night on the Gulf coast to help distract your attention away from all the things that haven’t happened during his watch over the nation’s worst environmental disaster ever?

That’s not what the Illinois White House team wants you to do. Wherever the president goes the media follows -- except no photos allowed of his Sunday golf outings. His activities are supposed to be the all-powerful public agenda-setter. Except, oops, they aren’t. Even with Barack Obama’s first Oval Office address to the nation set for tonight. Chances are he won’t be sitting like this at his historic desk.


Here’s the deal: For whatever reason -- wishful, political or ignorance because oil spills are a relative rarity in Obama’s old South side Chicago state Senate district -- the nation’s Top Talker was late to be seen reacting seriously to the gooey catastrophe.

Nine days elapsed before he could fit a look-see in between mini-vacations and DNC fundraisers and this summer’s White House music presentations and a White House picnic for Congress and graduation warnings about making excuses in life and re-campaigning for his healthcare legislation, which so many of us thought he had already signed.

By the time Obama made his first Louisiana trip and didn’t see one drop of oil, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal was nine days into his now eight-week full-time devotion to directing and listening and talking and consoling.

As one result, Magellan Strategies’ new poll of 1,030 likely general election....

...voters in the once-staunchly Democratic state of Louisiana finds the GOP governor’s approval rating at 66% while 60% now disapprove of the president’s spill job.

The nation’s CEO did get out the Costa Rica proclamation on Monday. And he’s already laid on yet another fund-raising trip to assi$t Harry ‘Won’t You Please Help a Poor Majority Leader?’ Reid in Nevada next month, according to the all-knowing columnist Jon Ralston there.

But Obama has been unable yet to find time to talk with BP’s CEO, nearly 60 days into the crisis, raising serious questions not about his campaigning ability but about his leadership ability once he’s won the office. Such articles appeared here about why he keeps BP as a whipping boy and over here about no longer walking on water and over here on how his lack of leadership corrodes trust in government and over here as the federal government is exposed as an empty Wizard of Oz and over here, even from Jon Stewart

ABC News’ perceptive Rick Klein notes how Obama is now reacting to the mess in precisely the jumping up-and-down manner he once said was unnecessary.

Now, how would a pro politician react to these troubled times as the needle on the nation’s Dial of Blame gauge begins to swing inevitably toward his truly? Well, a real pol would.... to change the subject. Oh, geez, no, not back to those seedy White House job offers to buy some fellow Dems out of their primary challenges. We’ve already changed off that subject.

The pol probably won’t go back for now to Arizona’s tough illegal immigrant law, since polls show Americans overwhelmingly think the state’s got a pretty good idea and are right to be frustrated over a porous federal border with Mexico.

Maybe another jobs bill? Bragging about forcing the new healthcare law through won’t help since nearly 60% now want it repealed. And it would be seriously uncharacteristic for the Harvard grad to apologize for dropping the oil ball early on.

For the Oval Office chat he’s got to have stats for sure, some reference to a ‘previous administration’ and quotes from real-live coast fishermen. But Obama also needs some seemingly new newsy initiative to draw attention over there. Much talk about the future; yes, it’s bad now but someday it’ll be even better than before and meanwhile we are gonna be dad-gummed certain that BP will pay all the costs.

Obama certainly won’t try explaining Rahm Emanuel‘s five years of rent-free living in a BP adviser’s apartment. Or how the administration approved the well that blew out. They’ll likely save leaks about Obama’s manufactured verbal confrontation with BP folks until Wednesday.

Hey, what about clean energy as a feel-good distraction to American minds off today’s mess toward the future? ‘The time has come, once and for all, for this nation to fully embrace a new future,’ Obama wrote supporters in an e-mail late Monday.

That could start a pretty good fight. The media loves heat above all else, though anything green is good. So, after a number-filled recounting of all that the feds have done, ignoring the reality that it hasn’t done one thing to stop the underwater oil flow, watch for some new proposal like that tonight.

The good news for the Democrat is that a new Gallup poll finds his national approval rating holding steady, down only one point from a week ago.

The bad news is that approval rating now hovers at 46%, the same as two weeks ago when the commander-in-chief skipped Memorial Day services at Arlington National Cemetery for Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Illinois, where the service was canceled.

But 46% is still Obama’s lowest approval rating so far in his first term, now 35% complete.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos; Jae C. Hong / Associated Press; Pete Souza / White House (file); Associated Press (Obama takes time to chat with fans in Gulfport, Miss. when he went to see the oil spill again).