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Missing in the oil spill

It's always nice to get out of Washington and talk to "real" Americans. Okay, I was talking to New Yorkers, so they're not as "real" as, say, Kansans. But they have views of what's going on in Washington that get me to thinking.

One observation was, "Where's Janet Napolitano?" Indeed, when the question was asked, I thought, "Yeah, where HAS she been?" In the early days of the gulf catastrophe, the secretary of homeland security was visible. After all, the Coast Guard, which is leading response efforts in the gulf, falls under her behemoth agency. But a couple of things happened to shove her off the main stage -- incessant criticism of DHS's handling of the oil spill response and the foiled Times Square bomb plot, 11 days after the April 20 oil rig explosion.

The two dovetail because they play right into the burgeoning narrative that Napolitano's department is too big to deal with disasters and that she has been a tad tone deaf. It all got started when she earned brick bats in the wake of the Christmas Day bombing when she said "the system worked" (not!). And then she described the May 1 Times Square bomb plot as a "one-off." Not choice words to use, but it definitely isn't proof that Napolitano doesn't understand or take seriously the terrorist threat against the United States.

You know who else has disappeared? Or, I should say, has diminished stature? Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The New York Times yesterday had a good story about this. The wayward Minerals Management Service and the oil rigs it is supposed to regulate are in his portfolio. And the lack of reform has hurt him. President Obama's appointment last week of veteran investigator Michael Bromwich to head the MMS was not only the equivalent of calling the cops on MMS, it was also the equivalent of lighting a fire under Salazar's, er, behind.

BP has to get that hold plugged. And the Obama administration has to keep its boots, hands and whatever else on the company's neck to ensure it gets done and done right. But if the American people are going to trust that government isn't in thrall to corporate interests who put profit over responsibility, then Bromwich -- and, by extension, Obama and Salazar -- has to show real and sustained progress in changing the culture of corruption that corroded the MMS and contributed to the circumstances that led to the worst environmental disaster in U.S. History.

By Jonathan Capehart  | June 21, 2010; 6:14 AM ET
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OK, you beg the question, is it that these officials have diminished profiles or that the media pays less attention to them?

We cannot lose sight of the fact that in this electronic age, it's those with their hands on the outlets who decide where priority goes.

Two points: 1) If media did not simply repeat the same few stories in a continuous loop, they would have time to report more stories and in greater depth. It's their laziness and profit motive that prevents them from acting more inqusitively.

2) Sadly, Jon Stewart often has more insightful comments and perspectives on events than so-called main stream media. As an example, he noticed that the near uniform media prediction that incumbents would be ousted during the primaries did not materalize as 9 of 11 incumbants won. Did the media admit their mistaken predictions or ponder why they had been so off, NO! Perhaps you should follow The Daily Show for a lead on where real news is analysed.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it:)

Posted by: edarden4u | June 21, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I never thought it was a good idea to put FEMA under the Department of Homeland Security. DHS has become overloaded and the load is too much for one department.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | June 21, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I am constantly amazed by the inherent assumption in this and most other editorials about the gulf spill.

That assumption is quite literally: The MSM is incompetent and corrupt and should be fixed immediately.

The assumption implies that MSM is the ONLY government organization this is incompetent and corrupt.

Folks, the house is falling down and we are looking only at one crack in the ceiling.

On the upside, we are looking at that one crack, really, really, really closely.

Posted by: TECWRITE | June 21, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Also missing are the Cheneys. They normally can't stop talking and trying to tell everyone what to do!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | June 21, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

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