Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA), who hopes to unseat Republican David Vitter in the Senate this fall, publicly parted ways with President Obama over the government’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf. In an interview this afternoon, Melancon gave Obama’s response a middling grade.
“Probably a ‘C’,” Melancon told TPMDC. “Even though his secretaries engaged, he himself didn’t really get engaged immediately. I see him making up for that or trying to make up for that, but it’s hard to play catchup when you start off slow.”
Melancon isn’t just upset about Obama’s public response, but about the administration’s decision to place a moratorium on deep water drilling.
“I understand where he’s coming from, but I totally disagree with — you know it’s a knee jerk,” Melancon said. “The concern for the president is you get another one like this spewing the same volume of oil, then ecologically, my concern and a lot of concern in our region is… the Gulf could in essence become a dead zone of enormous proportions.”
“Without shutting down the industry, we believe that there is some procedure or protocol that could be set up that allows us to safeguard and make sure that we don’t get another blowout while we’re still fighting this one, but at the same time not laying off the enormous numbers of potential workers in this region of the country,” Melancon added.
However, Melancon warns people away from comparisons to President Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina.
“One of the things, having gone through the George Bush episode is that people were feeling it was kind of the same-old, same-old,” Melancon said. “He showed up late and he’s making promises. Of course the difference here, and that’s the frustration that I have and I keep asking people what is it exactly that you want the federal government to do? We can’t cap the hole. We don’t have the wherewithal, the equipment, the knowledge. We’re dependent upon BP and the better minds in the oil and gas industry and academia to come up with suggestions, but so far to no avail.”
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.