At age 56 with a few political and advocacy battles under my belt I’d grown confident in my belief that I could no longer be surprised by a person’s capacity for betrayal and idiocy. I was wrong.
This morning I am watching the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing dealing with BP CEO Tony Hayward. Committee members have already referenced hard data documenting BP’s conscious decision to cut short safety measures for the sake of profit. There is also no doubt that BP’s actions are responsible for the largest environmental disaster in my country’s history, and the death (murder) of eleven human beings.
The moment of betrayal and idiocy that brought me up short, or made the street part of my persona boil up and clench fists, was not when some of the Republican’s on the committee criticized President Obama’s moratorium on offshore drilling and blame the president for the fact the spill has not been stopped, that’s just run-of-the-mill juvenile political dopiness, a skill possessed by members of both parties. The moment that brought me up short was when Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas apologized (apologized!) to Tony Hayward for the $20 billion escrow account the administration pressured BP to create in order to assist those in the Gulf whose livelihoods and lives have been brutalized by the oil spill (did Barton want American taxpayers to pay?).
Barton, who come to think of it might serve as the very plug needed to stop the spill, called the $20 billion escrow account a shakedown of BP, a slush fund. Now, if you need to ask me why Barton’s apology falls into the category of idiocy, you may want to join ancestry.com because you may find out Barton’s a family member. As for why his apology is a betrayal? The escrow account is for the American people, for those American people in the Gulf whose lives and dreams have been destroyed or are in danger of being destroyed. Making the despicable choice of apologizing to the victimizer – BP – while turning your back on the victims is an act of betrayal.