Someone in the White House has finally convinced Barack Obama to do a primetime address about the oil spill. He’ll be in the Oval Office. Fancy! But can we expect to hear anything new? Will he “act angrily” enough?
It takes a lot for a presidential address to merit the gravitas of an Oval Office setting — some people have to die, like in the Challenger explosion or the Oklahoma City bombing or 9/11, when the president has an immediate imperative to tell everyone to chill out, and that things will work out okay. Usually they come within a week of the incident. Eleven people did die in the BP explosion, but that was 50-some days ago, and the problems have not stopped compounding, nor will they anytime soon.
Presidential historian David Brinkley tells CNN that the Oval Office setting suggests we’ll have an aggressive, direct, warlike speech.
President Obama must angle his address to the nation on the Gulf oil disaster as more of a “warlike update” than the kind of addresses given by past presidents on national tragedies, a top presidential historian said.
“This is going to be a different kind of president address … like we’re in the middle of the war and he’s giving an update on the war on the Gulf,” said Douglas Brinkley, a professor of history at Rice University. “It’s a battlefield report — particularly trying to show that progress is being made, although it’s not fast enough for him.”
The New York Times made a similar point in its analysis today, about expecting war-talk. We’re starting to think that some folks are getting a little too caught up in their need for brutal warfare metaphors and imagery, because this is not actually a war?