|© MacKay/ http://www.mackaycartoons.net/index.html|
From today’s BBC News report on the BP Oil Disaster:
“President Obama earlier expressed anger at the latest failure.‘It is as enraging as it is heartbreaking, and we will not relent until this leak is contained, until the waters and shores are cleaned up, and until the people unjustly victimised by this man-made disaster are made whole,’ he said.” [emphasis added]
Let’s critically analyze President Obama’s word choices. I’m not going to focus on dictionary definitions or etymology—you all know what these words generally mean. What is more interesting is the tactical phrasing and nuances (what some call “reading between the lines”) used to communicate the White House’s official response to what is now universally described as the worst environmental disaster in the United States in history.
“enraging“- to cause rage, uncontrollable anger.“heartbreaking“- to cause anguish or severe emotional upset.“not relent“- to not surrender one’s efforts to achieve a goal or objective. To persevere.“contained“- to have held, restrained or controlled the spread of something.“cleaned up“- to have removed foreign matter or pollution.“unjustly victimised“- relating to persons; to be taken advantage of without justification. Contrast with “justly victimised”.
“man-made disaster“- an unnatural or manufactured disaster resulting from or caused by human error.“made whole“- to return to a state of fullness or the restore the status quo ante. In legal terminology”: restitutio ad integrum-to restore to an original condition, usually through a judicial award of compensatory or restitutionary damages for losses suffered caused by the negligence of others.
As Politico.com reports, President Obama, channeling Truman’s ghost, has a new and improved version of political accountability:
Branding? Really? BP will not be “living with” anything. BP is a multi-national oil conglomerate that is an artificial legal person. It has no feelings. It owes its shareholders a return on their investment and to earn profits. “Drill Baby Drill” and “Corporate Social Responsibility” are slogans, much like “Top Kill” and “Dead Man’s Switch”. It may well be that no one, including BP or the US government , has a short or long-term solution. Let’s not try to dilute the problem by using false analogies and dead (red) herrings like brand marketing to raise environmental awareness.
A final thought. According to BP’s website , US beneficial shareholdings are 39%, slightly less than the 44% held by UK residents:
So why haven’t we heard from BP’s shareholders demanding an international response?