Norah O'Donnell: WH staffers having oil nightmares

Isn’t this the most tone-deaf defense since Tony Hayward declared that he wanted his life back? Mark Finkelstein at Newsbusters captures this moment from MS-NBC’s Norah O’Donnell during her appearance on Morning Joe today, in which she attempted to backfill the missing “I feel your pain” campaign from the White House. She tells the panel in an emotional moment that the Obama administration has been consumed by the Deepwater Horizon blowout and Gulf crisis, before appearing to choke up at the heartrending nature of the staff’s predicament:

NORAH O’DONNELL: I think what’s noteworthy and interesting is that the White House is trying to make the point that they’re failing to communicate how they’re doing on these issues. That the reason the the president’s poll numbers slipped and even as we saw earlier about people think that the president’s handled this worse than Katrina; the government has handled this worse than Katrina. That it’s a failure to communicate these issues. I think that’s part of it in this sort of dispersed media.

But, I mean, I’ve spoken with White House staffers who tell me that they wake up in the middle of the nightmares of gushing, of the gushing oil. I mean, it’s consuming to be in the White House. And all of this different problems, and this oil thing which seems to eclipse everything. It eclipses everything.

It’s funny, but I don’t recall anyone at MS-NBC wondering how George W. Bush’s staff slept at night during the Katrina disaster. Nor should they have; it’s an absurd, almost surreal moment. People join the executive branch to deal with these kinds of emergencies. It’s their job. And in this case, more and more people have reached the conclusion that they’re not terribly good at it.

The timing is also a little odd, too, considering the release of the “beer Pong” pic. Like Allahpundit, I don’t at all begrudge the White House from getting a little down time, but that underscores the fact that these people work for a living at the apex of political power. Cut loose on a Sunday evening, but get the job done when it needs to get done — and don’t cry to MS-NBC about nightmares of gushing oil. The people of the Gulf have that nightmare 24/7 these days, and we’re a whole lot more sympathetic to their pain.

Finally, let’s reprise the Obama response pictorial, just to remind O’Donnell of what consumes this particular President. Hint: it’s not gushing oil.