As a heathen lefty, I must admit that Barton's comments actually came as a great relief as they brought the comments of other conservative talking heads to the surface (Media Matters has documented 62 instances of media conservatives defending BP). Even though the BP trials have been categorized as an "Inca ritual slaughter," compared to the "Salem witch trials," or a "Soviet-style public trial," until the comments came from Barton, the ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the comments were mostly disregarded as the usual inanity of the Beck's and Limbaugh's of the right. But that doesn't mean these comments should be ignored.
As always, Jon Stewart gives a nice summary of that inanity:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
As the Stewart clip shows, after Barton's apology to BP many congressional Republicans had to take a step back from the pro-BP rhetoric. Barton's later recanting of his apology to BP, is said to have been forced by House minority leaders (lest they strip Barton of his position as ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee). Even Bachmann, who is as crazy as crazy comes, stepped back from her claim that this was "yet one more gateway for more government control" and that hedge fund was really a "redistribution-of-wealth fund."
To me it seems fairly obvious that the people who have to actually be elected, and therefore not look like totally insensitive asshats (well unless we're talking about the poor, people of color, women, or gays), realize that taking BP's side in this situation is reprehensible to most Americans. For those conservative talking heads who made being insensitive asshat's their basic business model, there are no such restrictions. Instead it seems like they are crossing their fingers and hoping that the tea party's hate for Obama outweighs their concern for the oil spill.
The problem I have with this line of anti-Obama thinking is that once again any really issues with the way the situation has been handled, by both the White House and BP, has been ignored in favor of outrageous sound bites. Issues of gross negligence, and the continuing negligence of other deep water oil rigs, have been disregarded. Instead the issue of whether or not a moratorium on deep water offshore drilling is more damaging than the oil spill itself has taken the forefront of debate. Where there are valid questions to be asked about Obama’s response, the ineptitude of U.S. regulators, and who bears ultimate responsibility for the clean up, instead the entire conversation has turned into more political bickering.
I wonder why I continue to be surprised by this.
It's important to note that if Republicans recapture the House in November's midterms, Barton would become chairman of the committee that serves as the watchdog for the environment. I also think it's interesting that Obama's overall job approval is essentially the same now as it was before the oil spill. While most people still disapprove of Obama's handling of the oil spill, his approval rating has risen four points and is still higher than BP's.
As to be expected, it looks like the DNC is banking of the anger at BP to help them in the midterms by exposing conservative's reluctance to blame BP.
Let's just hope it makes a difference.
I know this post has already gotten pretty long and filled to the brim with videos, but I really want to add this video of Biden on Barton's apology:
More than anything, Biden's comments show a fundamental difference between what those on the left and those on the right think the role of government is.