Times Needles Obama on His Own 'Finger-Pointing' Over BP Oil Spill

Is the Times starting to needle Obama, just a little bit, for his habit of blame-shifting?

Saturday's story on the president's angry Rose Garden appearance by John Broder and Helene Cooper, in which Obama lashed out at the companies involved in the Gulf oil spill, "Obama Rips Oil Firms For 'Finger-Pointing,'" actually did a little finger-pointing at the Obama administration right at the top.

President Obama on Friday angrily assailed the finger-pointing among the three companies involved in the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a "ridiculous spectacle," even as his own administration came under criticism for failing to do enough to prevent an environmental calamity.

In remarks during an appearance in the Rose Garden, Mr. Obama also criticized what he called the "cozy relationship" between the government and the oil industry that has existed for decades, even into his own administration. He acknowledged that federal agencies had failed to ensure that safety and environmental standards were being met and announced a thorough review of the oversight process.

"I will not tolerate any more finger-pointing or irresponsibility," he said. "This is a responsibility that all of us share."


As environmental groups criticized the administration's record on drilling, Democrats tried to take steps Friday to prevent the issue from causing even more damage in an election year. The Democratic National Committee sent an e-mail message to reporters trumpeting an article in The Atlantic Monthly that cast the administration's response to the oil spill in a favorable light compared with President George W. Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Most Democrats have refrained from directly criticizing the White House's response to the spill, even as the calls for fundamental reform of regulation of offshore drilling have grown louder. But with each day the spill is not contained, and with new estimates that it may be many times larger than the government has said, the peril is rising for the administration.

It falls short of how the Times blamed Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but it's still more jabbing than the Times generally offers.

Even as Mr. Obama outlined the government's latest actions in response to the spill, his administration was coming under fire for allowing the minerals service to continue with business as usual in granting the permits even after Mr. Obama came to office vowing to clean it up.

Environmentalists and proponents of greater restrictions on offshore oil drilling questioned, for instance, Mr. Obama's decision to expand offshore oil drilling - announced in March - before first tackling the close relationships between government and industry at the agency.

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