Plenty of Republicans have assailed Barack Obama’s handling of the Gulf crisis as “incompetent,” but few have made Katrina comparisons, mindful of the sensitivities involved in the previous disaster in the Gulf. Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi isn’t nearly as shy. Calling the federal response to the Gulf oil spill “a Katrina flashback,” Taylor ripped the Obama administration’s “incompetent” response and says he hasn’t seen anything like it since, well … let’s just say Taylor thinks Obama and his team are doing a heckuva job:
As oil spread as close as 1½ miles from Jackson County’s coast Saturday, U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor called the response to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster “incompetent.”
“I’m having a Katrina flashback,” said the Bay St. Louis Democrat after an aerial survey of the Mississippi Sound and barrier islands Saturday morning. “I haven’t seen this much incompetence since Michael Brown was running FEMA.” …
Taylor said U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who heads the spill response, should fix problems that include a lack of direction and equipment.
“Vessels of Opportunity do not identify themselves,” said Taylor. “There is no way to communicate with them.
All those boats are running around like headless chickens. None of them are skimming for oil. It is criminal. Between the amount of money, the amount of wasted effort, there shouldn’t be a drop of oil in the Mississippi Sound, but because of this incompetence, it is there.”
Maybe Taylor just got caught up in an emotional moment, and the Mississippi Press took advantage of it. Perhaps he regrets his words. One look at his official website refutes that notion. Not only did he link to the article, he actually reproduced it entirely to make sure people know what he thinks of this response:
“It is criminal what is going on. This doesn’t have to happen, and it is not like I said ‘go fix it.’ I gave them a detailed plan how to do this two weeks ago. They are not doing any of it.”
Taylor’s plan, like the state’s, called for a multilayered response that relied heavily on skimmers to collect oil south of the barrier islands, at the island passes and within the Mississippi Sound.
“I’m absolutely furious,” said Taylor. “If the president of the United States can’t find somebody who can do this job, then let me do it.”
It could hardly hurt. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) concurs with Taylor, saying that a bipartisan consensus has begun to develop that Obama is in over his head. The lack of skimmers has been a particular criticism. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has had to start building skimmers, as the federal government has only provided two while the state needs at least 20. They won’t get full capacity of skimmers on the water until the first of August now, probably far too late to keep the oil off of Mississippi’s shores.
The problem isn’t that the President can’t find someone to do this job. The problem is the President himself isn’t up to the job of leadership required by the crisis.