News from the White House: Obama `s first Oval Office speech on June 15, 2010:  
Much Ado about Nothing 

In his 1590 comedy “Much Ado about Nothing”, the British author William
Shakespeare tells us about two pairs of lovers, who could not be more
different. In his first Oval Office speech on the BP oil spill,
Mr. President was sitting behind an impressive wooden desk, reading the
teleprompter carefully, only moving hands and mouth. 

Please allow me, as a German outsider, a little analysis of the Remarks by the President, as
they are officially called by the White House. ..



When an US President is performing a speech from the Oval Office, the
message must be something important. As it was the case with the
Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, who each had given five Oval
Office addresses to the nation, mostly about economy.  George W. Bush and
his father each had given two Oval Office addresses.  Mr. Bush used the
Oval Office to address the nation on Sept. 11, 2001, and felt it should be
reserved for only the most solemn of speeches, said Dan Bartlett, his
former senior adviser.

The whole Oval Office speech of Mr. Obama was lacking vision and guidance,
two decisive elements which brought him into the White House with his
“Yes, we can“ campaign. He told the audience, that he: “…assembled a team
of our nation’s best scientist and engineers to tackle this challenge…”
That`s good to know, but what else was to expect in “...the worst
environmental disaster America has ever faced…”?  He then mentioned that
BP has to pay for the cleanup of the damage done to the coastlines and its
wildlife. Also BP has to compensate for the losses of workers and business
owners who have been harmed as a result of BP`s recklessness.

Mr. Obama then came to the point, which he announced already in the
beginning of his Oval Office speech, the call to action on clean energy.
Here you may have expected something substantial for the edification of
future generations. After the statement: “…for decades, we have known the
days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve
talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction
to fossil fuels.  And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of
urgency that this challenge requires.  Time and again, the path forward
has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack
of political courage and candor….”, Mr. Obama continued:

“…The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like
China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be
right here in America.  Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth
to foreign countries for their oil.  And today, as we look to the Gulf, we
see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black
crude.”
“We cannot consign our children to this future.  The tragedy unfolding on
our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to
embrace a clean energy future is now.  Now is the moment for this
generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation
and seize control of our own destiny.”
“This is not some distant vision for America.  The transition away from
fossil fuels is going to take some time, but over the last year and a
half, we’ve already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean
energy industry.  As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind
turbines, people are going back to work installing energy-efficient
windows, and small businesses are making solar panels. Consumers are
buying more efficient cars and trucks, and families are making their homes
more energy-efficient.  Scientists and researchers are discovering clean
energy technologies that someday will lead to entire new industries….”

So far, so good. But also, these facts are by far not new news, neither
came they by surprise. Nor are they really motivating to start to change
something. The dependability of the US on fossil fuels is still going
stronger every day. To my taste, in the speech, only limited possibilities
regarding new energy approaches are mentioned. At this time, here are far
too small future energy activities noteworthy in a country, which is
“consuming more than 20 percent of the world`s oil, but have less than 2
percent of the world`s oil reserve...” (Obama).

The question which may be allowed at this point: Why is the President of
the United State not using his first Oval Office speech to draw up and
distribute his vision(s) for the nation towards distant targets in the
energy system? The chance was there, but he failed in this respect. He
could have mentioned at least some ideas how to eliminate not only the
dependence on oil, but also on the other fossil fuels like coal and so
called “natural” gas. He could have told something about the bright future
of a disrupted decentralized energy system, based on all sorts of
renewable energies. He could even have told us something about the
implementation of hydrogen as an energy carrier. If produced directly from
the sun, hydrogen can take up his decisive role, as it was intended to be
originally in the seventies. There are proven methods and ways to achieve
all this.
If only Mr. President and his aides knew...

Article by Arno A. Evers, FAIR-PR, Starnberg, Germany