New Gulf spill czar a part-time job?

How tough is it to find a full-time job in this economy?  Even the government has gotten stingy with the hours.  Three days after attempting to show just how serious he was about taking command of the Gulf spill by appointing a czar, it turns out that Barack Obama told Navy Secretary Ray Mabus not to quit his day job (h/t Desmond L):

President Barack Obama’s point man charting a new future for the oil-poisoned Gulf Coast will do the job part-time. Some environmentalists said the job demands someone’s full attention.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who oversees 900,000 Navy and Marine personnel, is inheriting an amorphous second job as the Obama administration’s leader of long-term environmental and economic planning. His task is no less than rebuilding a region still suffering afterHurricane Katrina and beset by decades of environmental problems.

Mabus won’t resign from his Navy job. When President George W. Bush picked Donald Powell to lead the recovery after Hurricane Katrina, Powell resigned as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

“The president talked to the governor about this, and they both agreed that he had the ability to do both,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday after Mabus met with Obama at the White House.

One can understand how Obama made this decision.  Let’s not forget how Obama himself spent the first five weeks of the crisis:

  • Two days of media events (White House Correspondents Dinner and a tête a tête with Bono)
  • Three days of fundraising
  • Four commemorations (graduations, Cinco de Mayo, etc)
  • Six days of vacation
  • Six days of campaigning
  • Six sports events
  • Seven days of golf

Nevertheless, the consequences of this spill and the magnitude of the cleanup are enormous, a point that Obama missed until his approval numbers starting dropping even lower than they had before June.  It will take a massive effort by the government to coordinate all of the resources necessary to stop the ongoing spill and then to clean up its effects.  That takes focused executive attention, which is why a “czar” is supposedly necessary.  It obviously doesn’t command Obama’s full attention, and now it won’t even occupy the full attention of the man onto whom Obama has shoved the responsibility.

And shouldn’t the Secretary of the Navy remain focused on, er, the Navy?  We’re at war in Afghanistan and supporting the drawdown of American involvement in Iraq.  The Navy has key roles to play in both theaters, as well as protecting trade routes from piracy and terrorism and showing strength in the Korean Peninsula.  It’s not exactly a great time to demand multitasking, unless Obama considers running the Navy another part-time job.

What do you think?  Take the poll: