Rahm Emanuel, in the true Machiavellian* tradition, noted that aspiring princes cannot let a good crisis go unexploited – or words to that effect. So, what’s up with this BP mess? How would a savvy politician have handled it? How about:
Press conference immediately upon discovering the true magnitude of the disaster, certainly within the first week;
A speech hitting the following points:
– This is a disaster of epic proportions (on the theory that, once in a while, it’s good to acknowledge the obvious – helps maintain the impression you live in the same universe as everybody else);
– Mitigating this disaster is our top priority;
– Only BP has the expertise to cap the well – we will provide whatever assistance we can, but, for better or worse, the US government is not the expert in capping deep sea oil wells;
– A high-level cabinet member (Sec of Interior?) will be on-site for the duration, making sure BP does everything in its power to resolve this disaster, and giving me daily progress reports;
– I’m authorizing the Coast Guard and Navy to work with local agencies and experts to do whatever can be done to mitigate the damage to the coast;
– Once we’ve addressed the immediate problems, we’ll launch a full-scale investigation. Heads will roll;
– Oh, yea – I’m canceling my fund raising and golfing junkets to deal with this problem.
Then, you get your media people to spin the living heck out of this, painting you as a hero. Look concerned at daily photo ops and say sympathetic and angry things. Hang out with some shrimp fishermen. Kiss some babies in New Orleans. Because a lot of people suspect you are an out-of-touch hubris-ridden narcissist who road affirmative action, white liberal guilt and the ability to read a teleprompter to a cush job in the White House – here’s your chance to prove them wrong.
Somehow, this didn’t happen. Anyone think Rove would have performed this badly?
*though Machiavelli really loved Italy. I’m not sure if anyone knows what Rahm loves.