I'm really not one to pile on the President for perceived failings. God knows he has a tough job. And after all, let's remember what the alternative to Obama could be, or what came before.
But tonight's speech on the oil spill was a real disappointment for those who believe a clean energy future is perhaps the only path to job growth, public health, national greatness, and freedom (from dependence on a ecologically and economically destructive fossil fuels).
The President showed that he gets how big a mess the Gulf is and he's changing leadership at the agency that oversees the industry. That's all well and good.
But when it came to reducing the future risk of these kinds of catastrophes, the prescriptions were in short supply. Obama called for accelerating the transition to a clean economy. That's fantastic. But how can we possibly move fast without a price on carbon? (Uber-capitalists John Doerr (Kleiner Perkins) and Jeff Immelt (GE) said it best in "Falling Behind in Green Tech")
How could Obama not use this opportunity to call on us to do some hard things? Imagine if he had asked us to use less oil, accept higher prices for fossil fuels, support legislators that make the hard calls (raising people's gas prices is about the hardest thing a politician can do).
After 9/11, it's been said many times, President Bush only asked us to shop... and nothing else. Obama seems to be making the same mistake.
He did suggest we need a moon shot to get to clean energy and get off the oil. And he harkened back to America's ability to build tanks and planes in WWII. But those examples of American success are 40 and 70 years ago.
What's scary about the speech tonight is that it almost could've been any president in the last four decades. They've all sat in the Oval Office and said 'never again' and 'we're going to find a new energy future.' And yet, here we are, using more fossil fuels than ever.
In the end, the President suggested we all "pray" for courage and the people of the Gulf.
It's truly a shame that that's the only thing he asked us to do.