Message: I care.

President Obama will travel back to the Gulf Coast this week — his second trip in a month — to assess firsthand the growing environmental damage from the spreading oil spill, White House officials said.

Mr. Obama will travel to Louisiana from Chicago, where he will be spending Memorial Day weekend, on Friday for a day trip, the officials said. As the oil spill enters its second month unabated, the administration is coming under increased criticism for its oversight of the oil leak.

Yeah, today actually ended up being an odd day for Byron York to run his piece on how Obama stonewalls the media because he knows they’re in his pocket. I’ve made that point before myself, but there’s a caveat to it: If the left turns on Obama, it’ll reassure the press that tougher coverage isn’t some betrayal of the Cause. And they are, in fact, turning on him over the spill:

The trouble began last week when Democratic stalwarts Chris Matthews and James Carville separately criticized Obama’s response, or lack thereof. Over the weekend both Donna Brazile and Cokie Roberts jumped on the bandwagon and last night all three networks ran with the story. ABC News was particularly focused on how the anger in LA appears “to be reserved for the government” noting that they’d seen a pickup truck bearing a sign reading ‘BP + The Feds = Another Katrina.’ Even HuffPo’s Senior Washington Correspondent Dan Froomkin noted yesterday that “the Katrina analogy isn’t completely off” and when you’ve lost HuffPo…well it’s not good.

Lefty political consultant Peter Daou laid into him last night at HuffPo too. Which may help explain why we’re suddenly seeing gratuitously cringeworthy anecdotes like this in reports on the spill:

Since the oil rig exploded, the White House has tried to project a posture that is unflappable and in command.

But to those tasked with keeping the president apprised of the disaster, Obama’s clenched jaw is becoming an increasingly familiar sight. During one of those sessions in the Oval Office the first week after the spill, a president who rarely vents his frustration cut his aides short, according to one who was there.

“Plug the damn hole,” Obama told them.

The hole continues to spew, however, in quantities now thought to be three to five times the 5,000 barrels a day originally estimated.

If Bush had uttered something as mindlessly self-evident as “plug the damn hole” during crisis management, there’d already be t-shirts on sale on lefty blogs with that phrase emblazoned over a picture of him looking like a baboon. What’s doubly bad for The One right now, of course, is that spill anxiety is reaching a crescendo just as the story of the White House trying to bribe Sestak to drop out of the race is taking off again. The left’s grudgingly turning on him over that too, first with Tim Kaine admitting over the weekend that, yeah, maybe the White House should come clean and today with Dick Durbin(!) piling on. Marc Ambinder on how the two narratives mesh:

One [the Sestak story] furthers the knife in the “open, honest, transparent” theme that has been on life support since health care, and the other [the spill] furthers the knife in the “neither big government nor small government but efficient government” theme that has been on life support since the stimulus. The administration will need to fight these two issues immediately, consistently, and relentlessly.

The irony? One of their big messages for November is to point to health care and financial reform and say “See? Democrats can govern!” And now voters are going to point to the spill and say … no, you really can’t. I wonder what message they’ll fall back on. Click the image to watch.