Obama Faces Criticism on the Left and Right for Response to Oil Spill

As the latest effort to slow the flow of oil in the Gulf faltered, President Obama waited until the end of a speech in Pittsburgh stringing together his economic greatest hits and attack lines from old campaign speeches to lobby the Senate for new energy taxes.

"The only way the transition to clean energy will succeed is if the private sector is fully invested in this future," Obama said Wednesday. "The only way to do that is by finally putting a price on carbon pollution."

Obama vowed to leverage revulsion over the oil spill into political action to tax carbon-based pollution and finance alternative energy sources.

"The next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century," Obama said.

The president also resurrected these general election broadsides, saying Republicans eyeing big mid-term election gains offer only "tax breaks for the wealthy and fewer rules for corporations."

"The last administration called his recycled idea 'The Ownership Society,'" he said. "But what it essentially means is that everyone is on their own."

House GOP Leader John Bohner called the speech hyper-partisan and said it diminished the presidency by resorting to straw man arguments.

Meanwhile, as the slick spreads and fears mount of a summer beclouded in oil, long-time supporters of the Obama White House have turned sullen and accusatory.

Columnist Frank Rich, a dominant voice on the left, complained in Sunday's New York Times that Obama's legendary cool might be overmatched by the oily menace.

"A pipe gushing poison into an ocean is a visceral crisis demanding visible, immediate action," Rich wrote, adding the president had exhibited at times "baffling…diffidence."

Picking up on Obama's frowning presentation Tuesday of his oil spill commission, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd said the spill threatens the Obama brand and presidency.

"With as much as 34 million gallons of oil inking the Gulf of Mexico, 'Yes we can' has been downgraded to 'Will we ever?'" she said. "Instead of buoyant, he seems put upon. Instead of the fairy dust of hopefulness, there's the bitter draught of helplessness."