OBAMA-MAN CONQUERS BP, EARNS CHANCE OF CRISIS REDEMPTION
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Barack Obama became Obama-man today, a sudden superhero who fought off corporate Kryptonite to vanquish a geopolitical enemy of the state.
O-man dared to stare down one of the mightiest multinational corporations. He had declared on national television last night his terms for a BP restitution fund that everyone on the planet knew was not a done deal. POTUS didn't blink. Today, he emerged from a four-hour White House showdown the king of the world.
It was an artful but necessary display of derring-do -- a gambit that hinged solely upon the implied executive power of the U.S. presidency. This was Obama's Cuban Missile Crisis, an exercise of unfurled American might, accomplished by dint of what he did NOT do -- the unspoken but palpable threat to seize BP's American assets if the company did not bow down and kiss Obama's ring. And give O-man big bonus points for getting BP to suspend its shareholder dividend -- a move certain to set the Brits back home a-howling.
(Just in case BP brass didn't get the message, there was that banner wielded by "protesters" outside the White House reading: "Seize BP's assets.")
And who would come out of the White House to genuflect before the news cameras but BP's heretofore unseen Swedish-born chairman of the board -- who literally pushed aside his embattled and despised C.E.O.,Tony Hayward, reduced to head-hanging silence and shame as his boss stood front and center, playing the role that Hayward could not handle -- that of the repentant sinner.
Whereas Hayward seemed insincere in his TV ad video apologia, his chairman came across on camera as contrite and ernest, showing empathy to the victims of his company's apparent negligence. The chairman also showed his propers for the young president who extracted from him a deal that BP didn't want to do -- the relinquishing of legal authority to arbitrate claims made against the company by those Americans it has harmed.
This is an extraordinary concession for a company whose C.E.O. has been so intransigent, whose North American chief executive as recently as last night would not state whether BP would accede to Obama's escrow fund demand.
Only one thing could have led to such a turnabout: the implicit threat --- or was it stated outright in that Oval Office meeting? -- that Obama would go so far as to order a seizure of BP assets if one of the biggest companies in the oil patch did not agree to his terms.
Barack Obama didn't just save his presidency today -- he joined the ranks of the truly great American presidents. He displayed confidence and good judgment, the ability to keep his cards hidden and his poker face on, putting all of his chips and his presidency on the table.
Ultimately, it was office of the president itself, the judicious exercise of executive power, that allowed Barack Obama to win this war without firing the big guns -- giving him a chance to redeem himself from what had been, until today, a markedly mild-mannered, lackluster display of crisis management.
Gulf oil spill diverts attention from domestic atrocities against American citizens...
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Are political leaders "targets" too?