US Senate candidate Jim Bender Op-Ed "The Oil Spill Shows Washington's Lack of Leadership" in NH Union Leader

Jim Bender, Republican candidate for US Senate talks about crisis management and the lack of leadership in Washington to contain the oil spill in the Gulf in an Op-Ed in today’s New Hampshire Union Leader as Congressman Paul Hodes deflects blame from the Obama administration by supporting a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Jim Bender Op-Ed: “The Oil Spill Shows Washington’s Lack of Leadership”

New Hampshire Union Leader

By: Jim Bender

June 2, 2010

For an administration that proudly announces it likes a crisis, the Obama White House certainly wasn’t prepared to manage one.  We’re just beginning to see the extent of the damage caused by the oil and chemicals filling up the Gulf of Mexico.  The foreign oil company responsible for the disaster has been unsuccessful in stopping it, and government exists to step in at precisely such moments.  Our inexperienced President is 18 months into his first leadership position and six weeks into total organizational mismanagement and chaos.

This oil disaster should have become his highest priority before the end of Day 1.  President Obama failed to recognize this was a crisis that would not fix itself.  His first step should have been to immediately call together all the experts and great minds, asking them to prioritize the feasibility as well as the risks of all possible solutions ranging from civil engineering to petroleum engineering to military solutions.

Action plans as well as contingency plans should have been in motion within 48 hours.  This administration claims to care for the environment, pushing its “cap and trade” bill and the “carbon credit” tax scheme.  But on the occasion of a real life environmental tragedy, the President and his Congress squandered their time berating Wall Street and bickering over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  More damage was done to the planet in those early wasted weeks than centuries of carbon credits could ever rectify.

When the media finally began to turn against him, he decided that trying to do something was less risky than continuing to do nothing. So far he has made no noticeable contribution toward solving the crisis. These leadership shortfalls are adding to the disaster every hour.  No one is in charge, despite repeated declarations to the contrary.  The President’s failure to act in a timely manner has caused catastrophic and incalculable damage to the ecology and the economy of the Gulf of Mexico. 

The costs of his inaction are readily apparent.  We’re seeing massive losses of animal and plant life, polluted waters from oil and toxic chemical dispersants and beaches that have been fouled for hundreds of miles.  The spill is just as disastrous for the economy, affecting local industries like fishing, tourism and hospitality and affecting the cost of food nationwide.

Small business owners have seen their operations halted, and they’re fearful they won’t be able to maintain payroll or keep up with loans.  The state of Louisiana has provided some assistance, but it needs greater support from the federal government.  After all the absurd handouts in the so-called stimulus and bailout bills, why is the administration so hesitant to extend federal assistance where it’s actually due?

It’s time for our leaders to learn and reset their priorities.  In the midst of one of the largest, man-made ecological disasters in history, the president went on vacation.  Since taking office, he’s played more rounds of golf than George W. Bush did in his whole presidency.  In fact, President Bush stopped playing golf entirely after an attack in Baghdad in August 2003.  It just didn’t seem appropriate to him.  If President Obama cares so much about the environment and about the small business owners and middle-class people affected by this oil disaster, why is he still jetting around to golf trips and vacations? 

Competence is not too much to ask of our elected officials. These actions are within the skill sets of thousands of leaders who have learned their craft in our free enterprise system.  Business executives deal with difficulties large and small on a daily basis. Those of us who have honed these skills have a duty to serve.  Over the next six years, we don’t know what problems we will face, but we know we will face them.  We must send men and women to Washington with clear and successful records of problem solving.

 The oil spill is catastrophic, but there’s an even bigger mess in Washington D.C.  The government is brazenly corrupt; it’s hemorrhaging tax dollars by the trillions; and it’s choking the life out of our economy.  It has shown no ability to clean up the oil, and I’m certain it won’t clean up the cesspool in its own backyard.  As your senator, I’ll bring the skills, experience, and moral fortitude necessary to scour Washington.

 Jim Bender is a Hollis businessman.  He is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.