Up from the deep sea: a nightmare for Obama

* Slow-moving behemoth turns heat up for president

* “Heartbreaking,” says Obama

* Democrats, Republicans raise questions

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON, May 27 (BestGrowthStock) – Up from the briny deep of
the Gulf of Mexico came a nightmare for President Barack
Obama.

Unlike Hurricane Katrina and its immediate, frightful
images of people in crisis, the gushing BP oil well has been a
slow-moving behemoth that is now taking a political toll on the
U.S. president.

Obama was already immersed in a long list of problems —
pushing a financial regulation overhaul, prodding Europe to
stem a financial crisis, pressuring Iran and North Korea.

And don’t forget the 9.9 percent U.S. jobless rate, two
wars and Obama’s hopes for immigration and energy legislation
before Washington stops for Nov. 2 congressional elections.

Now the greatest environmental calamity since the Exxon
Valdez spill in 1989 has fallen into his lap. He declared it
“heartbreaking.”

“We will not rest until this well is shut, the environment
is repaired and the cleanup is complete,” Obama said on
Wednesday. He makes his second visit to the Gulf on Friday.

The word at the White House is that Obama is frustrated at
the delays BP Plc has encountered in stopping the leak. “Plug
the damn hole,” he has told senior government officials.

And he is feeling heat from some of his own allies to get
something done.

James Carville, the Louisiana native and Democratic
consultant who helped Bill Clinton get elected in 1992, is
known as the “Ragin’ Cajun” and here is why:

“Man, you (Obama) got to get down here and take control of
this! Put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving!
We’re about to die down here!” he told ABC’s “Good Morning
America.”

Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, fearful for his
state’s coastline, was less bellicose, but just as worried.

He told CNN if a BP “top kill” procedure to stem the leak
does not work, then Obama has to order the federal government
to take over the operations.

MILITARY IN CHARGE?

“I think the president doesn’t have any choice and he
better go in, completely take over, perhaps with the military
in charge,” Nelson said.

“You’ve got to have BP’s cooperation because they’ve got
the technical instruments, but we’ve got to have somebody take
charge. I think the U.S. military is best suited to do that,”
he said.

A CBS News poll found that 35 percent of Americans surveyed
approved of the Obama administration’s handling of the oil
spill, 45 percent disapproved and 20 percent were undecided.

Republicans eager to make gains on Democrats’ majorities in
Congress in November have begun to raise questions about
whether oversight was lacking.

“The Obama administration approved drilling at this site,
approved the oil spill response plan and says it was paying
attention,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

The most immediate concern is stopping the leak. The
problem for the White House is that it has no real alternative
except to rely on BP’s technology and expertise to do it.

That means Obama is forced into an uneasy alliance with BP
— outraged that the leak took place but hopeful that the
energy giant can stop it.

A mixed message of sorts has resulted. Interior Secretary
Ken Salazar has railed publicly about BP: “Deadline after
deadline has been missed … If we find they’re not doing what
they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way
appropriately.”

However, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the U.S. disaster
response chief, has softened his punches to avoid alienating
the company. “They’re exhausting every technical means possible
to deal with that leak,” Allen said.

Presidential historian Thomas Schwartz, a Vanderbilt
University professor, said presidencies are often defined by
the crises encountered.

He said the oil spill could prove to be a defining crisis
but he cautioned against comparing the leak to Katrina, for
instance.

“This one has been slowly developing and could have those
qualities, but if BP were to suddenly get it capped, things
could be defused very quickly. The air could go out of the
balloon,” Schwartz said.

Investment Basics
(Editing by David Alexander and Anthony Boadle)

Up from the deep sea: a nightmare for Obama