Oil spill: Officials dispatched again
Colleague Karen Tumulty nailed the Obama administration's new dilemma in today's Post, noting that the White House is dealing with the "delicate challenge of management and message" as it addresses the April 20 BP oil spill and the thwarted Times Square bombing.
The crises pose a series of tricky questions for the administration, Tumulty writes: How can officials convey a sense that they are on top of a rapidly changing situation? Must they set aside other business on their agenda to reassure the public that they are fully engaged, or does that make them look rattled? Which words must be said -- and which avoided?
The administration is answering the first question by publishing a lengthy timeline of spill-related decisions and events and once again deploying senior officials to the Gulf Coast to inspect the federal response. The pictures, pressers and assurances to local officials will provide fodder for the cameras and the locals as the region waits for the spill's potential impact.
Let's check the schedule:
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar plans to tour wildlife refuges in Alabama and Louisiana and other areas already impacted by the spill, according to the Interior Department.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe will head back on Thursday and will team up for visits to Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Napolitano, Locke and Lubchenco will inspect operations in Biloxi, Miss., the White House said. Then Napolitano and Locke break off and head to Pensacola, Fla., while Lubchenco and White House environmental czar Nancy Sutley travel to Pascagoula, Miss., to visit NOAA's seafood inspection lab.
Perciasepe will head to Louisiana to check in on his agency's air and water monitoring activities and meet with local folks, according to White House guidance.
Lubchenco and Sutley plan to visit Venice and St. Bernard Parish, La., to inspect the cleanup efforts there and meet with local officials.
As for whether the administration should set aside other business, it appears the answer is no: The president will sign a veterans' health-care bill this afternoon with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki at his side, Vice President Biden is going to Belgium and Spain for security meetings, and the White House appears to be prepping for the announcement of a Supreme Court nominee.
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