Why the Barton BP apology has legs – “Shakedown”

Because … the media will ride this bad boy harder than a dark horse in a stakes race. In case you are not familiar with the story, Texas Congressman Joe Barton apologized to BP President Tony Hayward this morning for what he called a “shake down” by the President of the United States. The topic was the $20 billion dollars “voluntary” escrow account for Gulf Coast damages.

The apology was silly and stupid, mostly because as Ed Morrissey notes, it gives the Democrats an easy target, and takes the pressure off the White House and puts the spotlight on Republicans. Here’s the video of the exchange.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj1lrvNDkCE&feature=player_embedded

The White House predictably jumped on this one using Biden to show the predictable outrage which is funny coming from the Gaffer in Chief, But Republicans jumped on Barton too and an apology for the apology came pretty quickly, but apparently only after Republicans threatened him with his loss of seniority..

“I apologize for using the term ‘shakedown’ with regard to yesterday’s actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP,’’ Mr. Barton’s statement said. “As I told my colleagues yesterday and said again this morning, BP should bear the full financial responsibility for the accident on their lease in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Perhaps “shakedown” was the wrong word. But anyone who thinks that BP had a choice in throwing money at this fund isn’t paying attention, especially when you consider the USAG Eric Holder was a key member of the escrow committee.

Let me be clear: I don’t apologize for the justice department’s role in this matter. And I don’t apologize for the way in which this administration has approached this question. We have dealt with this issue I think in a tough way, to ensure that Americans who did no wrong will be compensated …”

This story has legs because Democrats will use this continually to paint Republicans as defenders of Big Oil. I’m not sure outside of the Gulf this much matters and along the Gulf it will take more than this for Obama to win back hearts and minds.

All of which obscures the key issue and that is, isn’t this a ummm, well, what? If the federal government can call a private business into a meeting, and with the Attorney General learning over their shoulders, and make an offer that company can’t refuse, ummm, what is the definition of that anyway? Well Rush has a word for it.

And if the government can circumvent the normal judicial process that was set up to ensure due process, what can’t it do? Oh this story has legs, but maybe not for the reasons the left hopes.

The apology was silly and stupid, mostly because as Ed Morrissey notes, it gives the Democrats an easy target, and takes the pressure off the White House and puts the spotlight on Republicans. Here’s the video of the exchange.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tj1lrvNDkCE&feature=player_embedded

The White House predictably jumped on this one using Biden to show the predictable outrage which is funny coming from the Gaffer in Chief, But Republicans jumped on Barton too and an apology for the apology came pretty quickly, but apparently only after Republicans threatened him with his loss of seniority..

“I apologize for using the term ‘shakedown’ with regard to yesterday’s actions at the White House in my opening statement this morning, and I retract my apology to BP,’’ Mr. Barton’s statement said. “As I told my colleagues yesterday and said again this morning, BP should bear the full financial responsibility for the accident on their lease in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Perhaps “shakedown” was the wrong word. But anyone who thinks that BP had a choice in throwing money at this fund isn’t paying attention, especially when you consider the USAG Eric Holder was a key member of the escrow committee.

Let me be clear: I don’t apologize for the justice department’s role in this matter. And I don’t apologize for the way in which this administration has approached this question. We have dealt with this issue I think in a tough way, to ensure that Americans who did no wrong will be compensated …”

This story has legs because Democrats will use this continually to paint Republicans as defenders of Big Oil. I’m not sure outside of the Gulf this much matters and along the Gulf it will take more than this for Obama to win back hearts and minds.

All of which obscures the key issue and that is, isn’t this a ummm, well, what? If the federal government can call a private business into a meeting, and with the Attorney General learning over their shoulders, and make an offer that company can’t refuse, ummm, what is the definition of that anyway? Well Rush has a word for it.

And if the government can circumvent the normal judicial process that was set up to ensure due process, what can’t it do? Oh this story has legs, but maybe not for the reasons the left hopes.

20 replies
  1. Keith J Robbins
    Keith J Robbins says:

    I am not sure what the big issue is, the Congressman just said what others are afriad to say, it was a shackdown or I prefer extortion. Mark my words the President will not be happy until BP files for Chapter 11. It will be another excuse for him to nationalize a portion of the private sector.

  2. chris-os
    chris-os says:

    The whole point of this WAS to circumvent the judicial process which is estimated to be 10 years to collect any compensation from BP. The people of the gulf need help now!

    And, speaking of "shakedown" Barton was the victim of the exact same kind of shakedown process he described-and by his own party.

    "I do not want to live in a county where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong, [it is] subject to some sort of political pressure that, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown." His statement was legitimately (morally) wrong and he was subject to political pressure-too ironic!

    "

    • Steve McGough
      Steve McGough says:

      Sure, Gulf residents need help “now” and they seem to be getting it from BP. If people expect BP to start handing out debit cards with no limits, they are fools. BP has a claim process with details online. As of eight to 10 days ago – per this AP news story and comments from BP officials – the company had paid out more than 18,000 claims so far and has hired 600 adjusters. So in other words, your claim it would take more than 10 years to get any money from BP is totally false.

      They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. At this point, they could be doing everything right in the claim process and all the politicians would still be screaming.

      I do not expect BP to hand out checks without verifying what is happening. There will be fraudulent claims and plenty of them. Would you agree BP has the obligation to their employees and stockholders to (quickly) verify claims or should they just open up the bank account to anyone and everyone?

      My previous post has legs. There will be all sorts of fraud and now the government will be abetting the fraud since they will be handing out BP cash and my guess is BP will not have the opportunity to audit the claims.

      Destruction of capitalism is the goal here … not plugging the damn hole or cleaning up the oil.

      • rickyrock
        rickyrock says:

        Bp has paid out only 12 percent of the current claims ,so in this instance I believe the government is correct in this so called "circumvention of due process".YOU ALSO NEED TO UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN NEGLIGENCE IS INVOLVED (.AND NEGLIGENCE WILL SURELY BE PROVED IN THIS CASE)  ALL CONTRACTS INVOLVING A CAP OF DAMAGES ARE VOIDABLE …THAT IS THE LAW.

        These guys have bought our congressmen and senators on both sides of the isle, any thinking other wise is moronic or naive at best.Republicans and Democrats should hang their heads in shame.

  3. AMP73
    AMP73 says:

    Ok – a little off the topic but not really…. I just watched that little YouTube video on this site about Obama and all his fun while this oil spill is going on.  My husband has not picked up his golf clubs once because he is so busy with work, and I don't think he has a job with nearly as much responsibility and obligation as the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!  And we have not gone to any concerts and we can't even book a vacation at this point.  So forgive me if I am feeling a little bitter and angry about how our "young" president wastes…. sorry, I mean SPENDS, his time.

  4. chris-os
    chris-os says:

    The whole point of this story is that the gulf is being destroyed, people's livelihoods gone for years, animals and birds dying…and Barton says "the tragedy here"..is the shakedown of BP. Wow!

    That is the mindset of the GOP-this is what they consider the real horror of it all.

    Despicable.

  5. rocknwroll
    rocknwroll says:

    Barton's initial comments typify in general the Republican party mindset toward the average American (corporations 1st, people 2nd or maybe a distant 4th behind dogs and cats). Think about it next time you vote.

  6. djt
    djt says:

    shameful spin, thats all this blog post is.

    what barton said is inexcusable, not because it "gives the Democrats and easy target", but because its insensitive to gulf citizens, at its worst, and at its best, even if you agree with him (hard as that is to see), its ill timed.

    Steve, the AP story you cite above uses as its basis, the statements of BP officials. They have not exactly been  a reliable source of truth through this entire process. They say they are down to 48 hour response time…then it must be true!

    Let me see if I have this straight. Rep Etheridge (also indefensible) is taken to task for at least 2 days because of what he did on the streets of DC to two unnamed kids with a video camera. But what Barton said about a national catastrophe during a congressional hearing will only have legs because he's an easy target for democrats? thats nothing but shameful spin.

  7. joe_m
    joe_m says:

    The poor people of the gulf, they had a good chance of collecting money from BP for their loss, now they will have to deal with government bureaucrats. They will have to file endless forms to collect. The bureaucracy will be staffed with political hacks collecting huge salaries. Bet most of the money goes to “non-profit” organizations for “relief” and those salaries.

    Yes, the “little people” got screwed again.

  8. rickyrock
    rickyrock says:

    Barton's statement is the most idiotic I have ever heard….

    This was not a shakedown… this was a legitimate request for funds to help all the poor people in the Gulf

    So you think a company can negligently abuse this world and because of political influence get away with it.BP has had a series of accidents caused by there carelessness …all will be brought up soon

    We now know where the Republicans stand and they are definitely not with the average American.

    It's sad that Jim Vicevich has to side with this moron,but I guess Jim you're just playing the right wing drill baby drill game………..it makes me sick…….

  9. chris-os
    chris-os says:

    Really, Anne, really?

    You are so upset about BP being "shaken down pure and simple"?

    Just watched an interview with an older fishing boat captain. He was doing really well…until he burst into tears.

    But you just keep worrying about BP being 'shaken down", OK?

    • Anne-EH
      Anne-EH says:

      BP IS DOING what NEEDS to get done, paying out the claims presented to them for payment. What is going on is BEYOND simple claim payments and getting pretty close to exhortion.

      What gets me much MORE upset is the lack of a joint BP/US Government cordininated effort to not only clean up the mess, but most important, PLUG UP THE OIL LEAK.

  10. Anne-EH
    Anne-EH says:

    As Steve has said, let the legit claims process DO ITS JOB. Anything else is exhortion, done according to the "Chicago way".

  11. chris-os
    chris-os says:

    Rand Paul says Obama's criticism of BP is "unamerican".

    Michelle Malkin said BP should not "be a chump".

    Barton said "the real tragedy here" is the "shakedown of BP"

    Boehner said taxpayers should share the burden of compensation.

    And, as far as a Chicago-style "shakedown" is concerned, BP agreed to the 20 bill pretty quickly, no fighting.

    Good reminder to me of the differences between the Republican and Democratic philosophies. The Repugs are so far up the rear ends of corporations, they cannot even find their way out.

     

  12. Anne-EH
    Anne-EH says:

    To those who are complaining about what Rep. Joe Barton has said, and are upset with those who "beg to differ" on this subject in question, all that can be said is this:

    "do you want your WHINE with your cheese?"

    • rickyrock
      rickyrock says:

      Yeah Anne, you keep articulating with that idiot logic of yours……..try formulating some thoughts that don't rely upon 100 year old cliches.Bp is not only responsible for destroying part of our world.but also covering up the severity of the spill.They are legally liable for fraud,negligence nad under the legal concept of exigency they could be forced to shut down all drilling operations.

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