Claiming that "A disaster is an inexcusable thing to waste," preening "green" columnist Thomas Friedman once again urged Obama to use the Gulf spill to promote Friedman's agenda to break America's addiction to oil" in his Sunday piece "Malia For President."
Friedman quoted the Bible in praise of Obama's daughter Malia for asking the president "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" ("And a child shall lead them....)
This oil leak is not President Obama's fault. Stopping the spill is BP's responsibility; it both caused it and it has the best access to the best technology to plug it. Of course, as the nation's C.E.O., Mr. Obama has to oversee the cleanup, and he has been on top of that. His most important job, though, is one he has yet to take on: shaping the long-term public reaction to the spill so that we can use it to generate the political will to break our addiction to oil. In that job, the most important thing Mr. Obama can do is react to this spill as a child would - because it is precisely that simple gut reaction, repeated over and over, speech after speech, that could change our national conversation on energy.
Answering those questions is the president's great opportunity here, but he has to think like a kid. Kids get it. They ask: Why would we want to stay dependent on an energy source that could destroy so many birds, fish, beaches and ecosystems before the next generation has a chance to enjoy them? Why aren't we doing more to create clean power and energy efficiency when so many others, even China, are doing so? And, Daddy, why can't you even mention the words "carbon tax," when the carbon we spill into the atmosphere every day is just as dangerous to our future as the crude oil that has been spilling into the gulf?
That is what a child would want to know if he or she could vote. That is the well of aspiration for a game-change on energy that Mr. Obama can tap into. And he could even rip off BP for his moon shot motto: Let's get America "Beyond Petroleum." As you would say, Mr. President, this is your time, this is your moment. Seize it. A disaster is an inexcusable thing to waste.
Friedman doesn't explain what his substitute would be - about 95% of the world's transportation fuel comes from oil, and solar-powered cars have been the wave of the future for about 30 years.
This is at least the second time Friedman has painted the Gulf oil spill, caused by an explosion that cost 11 workers their lives, as an opportunity to pass legislation. He told George Stephanopoulos on ABC's Good Morning America on May 6 the same spiel, complete with the "addiction to oil" line:
Yeah. I really think this is an opportunity. The President has really got to decide how am I going to deal with this spill? Does he really just want to end the oil spill? Of course he wants to do that. Or does he actually want to give birth to a new energy system that will end our addiction to oil. I for one am hoping and urging that he'll do the latter, that he'll use this as a way of pushing a bill through the Senate, that will begin to finally to end our addiction to oil. So, over time, you know, we're not going to find ourselves dependent on these kind of dangerous technologies, that inevitably lead to these kinds of accidents.
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