The problem with President Obama's speech last night and his meeting today with BP CEO Tony Hayward is the timing.

We face the greatest environmental crisis in our nation's history and the Obama administration let 56 days go by before the president addressed the country from the Oval Office and 57 days to meet with BP's top executive.

I am a Democrat and a strong supporter of my president. But even I have to ask "what took so long?"

Much of the criticism of the president's handling of the crisis could have been avoided had a different speech been delivered from the Oval Office over a month ago.

From the start, the president should have told the American people -- and the world -- that there will be plenty of blame to go around about how this was allowed to happen but only AFTER the crisis is over.

Right now we face an engineering challenge not unlike that of NASA's heralded Apollo 13 success.

The president could have told the American people that it is clear that we had the technology to drill a hole in the ocean floor 1 mile beneath the surface.

Then, he should have leveled with us and said that it is just as unclear, right now, how we can put the technology in place to shut it down quickly after the tragic explosion.

Just as we were able to bring Apollo 13 back to earth safely, we will shut this well down, the president could have assured us.

Such a speech would have framed the crisis for what it truly is: a dramatic rush against time, and an endeavor to do something that has never been done before. It's a technological challenge and one our nation will be prepared to meet whether it takes 10 days or 110 days.

The failure to frame this crisis for the American people as an engineering challenge akin to the successful rescue of Apollo 13 has left a vacuum to be filled with comparisons to Katrina and to other less successfully handled crises.

Oil in the Gulf. Day 58... and counting.

Joe Trippi is a Fox News contributor and political strategist who worked for Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale and Gary Hart and turned Howard Dean into an unlikely front runner in 2004. For more visit JoeTrippi.com.

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