"CHICAGO -- At a political fund-raiser on Thursday for a close friend running for his old Senate seat, President Obama brought up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to make his case to voters.
When the other side was in power, he said, they told the oil industry to 'write your own rules.' More recently, he said, they 'voted against holding oil companies like BP accountable for every dime of the spills they cause.' One leading Republican, he recalled, even 'apologized to them.'
Now that the country’s worst oil spill in history has finally been stopped, expect a gusher of political debate over what it meant and whom to blame. For three months, Mr. Obama was tested in a way he had not been before, his seemingly detached initial response to the crisis evolving into a tougher approach to face down a multinational corporation.
He will spend the next three months until midterm Congressional elections trying to deflect questions about his administration’s effectiveness by turning them into questions about his critics’ coziness with the oil industry. The end of the spill, and the government’s conclusion that it did less damage than feared, certainly provides a welcome burst of good news for a president beleaguered by an anemic economy at home and relentless war abroad. But the question is whether he can define the episode on his terms."
Peter Baker reports for the New York Times August 5, 2010.