The congressional grilling of BP oil executive Tony Hayward was just one of the pointless political spectacles the American public was recently forced to endure.
The other, President Obama’s oval office oil speech, was nothing more than a carefully staged commercial for cap and tax with a few heavy-handed threats towards BP thrown in for good measure.
“We will make BP pay,” he said. A few moments later he added, “I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness.”
The following day, as promised, Obama and his advisors “informed” BP that they would hand over $20 billion and that they would not have any control over its distribution. They also forced BP to contribute $100 million to a fund to compensate oil workers left jobless by Obama’s moratorium on offshore drilling. Yes, Obama shuts the rigs down and BP must pay.
One can only imagine what the reaction would have been had the head of a U.S. corporation been forced to cough up billions of dollars to a foreign government without due process of law.
Hayward has repeatedly vowed that his company will pay for the damages caused by the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon. The company has already spent in excess of a $2 billion and has given no indication that it intends to do anything other than fully cooperate. After all, this is a company that nets $300 million each day. They can afford to pay the bill and have shown a willingness to do so even without being strong-armed by the administration.
Even if the corporation decided to try and limit their liabilities, we have a way to deal with that. It is called the judicial system. Typically, if you are going to deprive someone of life, liberty or property, you go through the courts to do it instead of resulting to thuggery.
The day after Obama and his minions wrested billions of dollars from BP’s copious coffers, Hayward was dragged before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight and investigations subcommittee so that a bunch of self-aggrandizing politicians could extract their pound of flesh from the embattled executive.
At a time when oil is still gushing into the gulf, these politicians decided to hold kangaroo court to excoriate a man and a company who frankly are doing more than the feds to get this situation under control.
What was the point?
Hayward was harshly criticized for not giving answers to questions for which he admitted he had no answer. I suppose the esteemed members of Congress would have preferred wild speculation and overt groveling.
The one bright spot of the day for Hayward and for anyone who supports rule of law over Chicago style politics was the surprise commentary by Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX).
Barton accused the Obama administration of a “$20 billion shakedown” and said he was ashamed of what happened in the White House.
Critics on both sides of the aisle immediately attacked Barton accusing him of harboring sympathies for big oil.
Give me a break. Barton’s statements were not expressing support for BP, they were expressing support for our legal system. It is a shame that he was forced to stand alone in doing so.
As with the banking and automaker executives who came before him, Hayward was just another corporate whipping boy forced to take his blows in the political circus that is congressional hearings.
In the meantime, while the Congressmen in question worked hard to screw on their most disapproving faces in order to more impressively glare at Hayward, millions of gallons of oil continue to spill into the gulf.
Instead of wasting taxpayer time and money for political theater, their efforts would have been better directed to the more immediate issue of cleanup and containment.
The Hayward hearing was premature, pointless and frankly embarrassing. The American people deserve better than political showboating.
Kristi Reed is a reporter for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for another great commentary, Kristi. If we look at all the hours those 545 people in Washington, D.C. spend holding such investigations as this one, we should be able to completely determine, their incompetency. I wonder just how much of our tax dollars are wasted on this type of unnecessary "showboating" activity, as you say.
Kristi, I agree with you that the Hayward hearing was embarrassing. Our politicians are trying to make BP a scapegoat, while doing nothing of substance to stop the oil spill, clean up the mess and enlist the help of other nations who have voluntarily offered help to no avail. They are using this crisis to promote their radical leftist agenda while adding insult to injury to the oil workers by not allowing drilling to continue. The left can take partial credit for this situation as they have hampered all efforts to drill on land in areas known to be rich in underground oil deposits. I see this as one more catastrophic failure of the Obama administration. His lack of leadership in this crisis has been truly pathetic.