Deepwater Horizon oil spill

President Obama is Not a Magic Negro: The Need for Patience with the Gulf Oil Spill

President Obama

I decided to use “Negro” in the title because President Obama allowed this term to be included on the 2010 U.S. Census. Although President Obama has been treated like the “Second Coming” in many ways, I want to offer the American people a reality that might be unsettling, unnerving, and unhousing for many: President Obama is not the “Second Coming.” While I disagree with President Obama on many issues, I think it is highly unfair for people to be criticizing him for not being able to have the current oil spill crisis resolved by now. This is a serious oil spill and is a crisis that cannot be remedied by simply having President Obama to snap his fingers. It is a little poetic justice, however. I remember President Obama being highly critical of President Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina and Rita. President Obama, things are a little more difficult when you are actually serving as the President of the United States of America, huh? The purpose of this article is to respond to the unfair criticisms and expectations of people for President Obama to quickly resolve the Gulf oil spill, and to still advocate for offshore oil drilling.

President Obama has a team of experts, scholars, and engineers working to address the Gulf oil spill. He is dedicating all of the resources and time possible to help us to have the swiftest resolution to this crisis as possible. If this crisis would have been able to be solved by now, President Obama would have had it solved by now. We should not use every opportunity possible to try to score political points and play “gotcha” politics. America needs a much more mature and healthier politics than this. Although I would like to see President Obama using language that clearly identifies that it is his job to resolve this crisis and not BP, I think he has handled this crisis about as good as any clear thinking American can expect. The law actually requires the President of the United States of America to remedy this crisis. While he can involve BP in the process of resolving this crisis, he is legally responsible for addressing the crisis. When President Obama continues to say that BP will be held responsible for paying for this oil spill, he is not trying to remove blame from himself for this crisis, but he is trying to let the American people know that the taxpayers are not going to be held responsible for paying for an accident caused by BP. I applaud President Obama for this too.

While this crisis is unfortunate, I do not want it to become a distraction for preventing more offshore drilling and oil exploration. We cannot conserve our way to energy independence. Conservation is one important dimension of improving our energy supply, but we have to do a tremendous amount more on the production side of things. I was proud to hear President Obama’s support of offshore drilling and willingness to support nuclear energy.  Offshore drilling and nuclear energy are essential to ameliorating our efforts to be less reliant on foreign sources of oil. I really hope that President Obama will not allow this current Gulf oil spill to sway his publicly expressed support for more offshore drilling and nuclear energy.

More regulation of the oil industry is not needed to solve future problems with oil spills. What is needed is more investment in safer exploration for oil and safer methods of offshore oil drilling.  BP needs to be held accountable for as much of the costs of this crisis as possible. We should not, however, try to unfairly demonize BP for this oil spill. It is not like BP intentionally tried to cause this oil spill. Accidents do happen; after all, we are human beings.

I want us to remember that President Obama has done as much as he can do to address this crisis. While he has not always used the best language that I (and many) would like him to employ to respond to issues about this crisis, it is unfair to think that he is not strongly engaged and making every effort possible to bring a swift resolution to this crisis. Again, this Gulf oil spill crisis has demonstrated to many that President Barack H. Obama is not a magic Negro. My thoughts and prayers are with the people who have been deeply affected by this crisis. I encourage President Obama and the American people to do what is necessary to help those affected by this crisis.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison