The President, the Petrol and the People

Much of the commentary about President Obama's Oval Office speech on Tuesday night could have been written before it was given.

Given the situation in the Gulf it is easy to criticize anything the president said. In a Gallup poll released on Wednesday, it is clear that the American people recognize the scope of the tragedy that has occurred.

Well over half of those surveyed believe that normal life for some animal species will never be restored. An overwhelming majority agree that the U.S. economy will be hurt as prices for gas and food increase.

The president gave voice to every side of the issue in his address:

- Cap the leak.

- Make BP pay.

- Find ways to reduce what George Bush called “our addiction to oil”.

- Commit ourselves to a long, long cleanup.

- End the culture of "corporations know best, don't regulate them too much".

The president struck a much more optimistic tone than that expressed by the Americans polled by Gallup.

When asked how long it would take for the beaches and the wildlife in the Gulf to recover, more than half responded "never." 

There are no words that can be spoken from anywhere, even the Oval Office, that can eradicate that reality. It is the greatest environmental disaster we have ever faced.

Joseph Slakas is a Democratic political consultant who is a frequent guest on's "The Strategy Room."

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