May 26th, 2010
08:40 PM ET
13 years ago

Carville: Obama needs to tell BP 'I'm your daddy'

Washington (CNN) – Just hours after completing a tour of oil soaked wetlands on the Louisiana coast, Democratic strategist James Carville blasted the Obama administration for its response to what he calls "a disaster of the first magnitude."

"The chairman of BP said that BP was a big important company and the United States was a big important country…BP is not the equal of the United States government," Carville told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. "And this president needs to tell BP: I'm your daddy, I'm in charge. You're going to do what we say."

Joined by his wife and fellow CNN contributor Mary Matalin, an emotional Carville stressed the urgency of the situation. "We need some action here, and we need to get this thing moving very quickly," Carville said Wednesday on CNN's John King, USA.

Asked by King whether the disaster response has become a question of presidential accountability, Carville suggested that Washington lobbyists hired by BP were influencing the administration's response to the spill. "They've [BP] hired everything that walks in Washington," the Louisiana native said.

But Carville, a staunch supporter of President Obama, said he is still optimistic that the federal response will change after Obama visits the Gulf Coast later this week.

"I think when this president comes down here Friday and actually sees what is going on, I think we are going to swing into action here. I think we are very optimistic that we are going to have a sea change here Friday. I just think that the president is not being told what the situation here is in a very candid way, and I urge him to come and see."

Clutching a plastic bottle filled with oil from the wetlands, a visibly upset Matalin said that during their tour of affected areas, "We sailed through these marshes for two hours. We didn't see one boat, not one rescue effort, not one skimmer, not one container."

"But before we get to accountability, America just help, just help," Matalin said. "If everybody could help, put pressure on those that can help, there will be plenty of time for accountability and criminality and all the rest of it. But now, get down here, clean it up, contain it, don't let it do any more damage."

Filed under: Energy • James Carville • JKUSA • John King USA • Louisiana • Mary Matalin • Popular Posts
soundoff (110 Responses)
  1. Byron

    Its good to see a couple united in this unpolitical issue – its mother Earth, not mother boundaries, politics, lobbyists and the like

    May 26, 2010 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  2. Jay

    I guess old Jimbo is seeing what the rest of us have known for a while. Does Carville care to comment on the fact that Louisiana voted for McCain? Does Jimbo thing that has affected Mr Obama's response?

    May 26, 2010 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  3. JRJunior

    Great advice, James – tell BP your its "daddy". I hope no one is paying you for that. Do you really think w/ the pressure already on BP, they are not attempting to do all they can to stop the leak? Tell us what their motivation is to continue racking up clean-up / legal liability costs? All the false bravado you're suggesting is great for the movies / politics, but it does nothing to help the situation. Why not provide more useless advice? Maybe the government should push BP aside and do it on their own? Maybe because they know nothing about drilling in 5,000 ft of water and all the political grandstanding by the politicians won't solve the problem. I think it would be refreshing if our our elected leaders (republican AND democrat) leveled with the public as opposed to using the situation for potential political gain. The reality is we're dealing with a tragic, anomalous situation due to the failure of a highly complex system (whomever is to blame) and unfortunately the solution will be "trial and error". Also, I think we've seen enough mock trials on the Hill – that's about as helpful to solving this as telling BP you're their "daddy".

    May 26, 2010 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  4. President Obama....Get your ass to

    the Gulf oil. You own this mess and it's time for you to REACT!

    May 26, 2010 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  5. Tee

    ahhh, just like when Moses parted the Red Sea, Obama's going to go down there and make everything OK just by his appearance.

    We're so blessed to have such a powerful and supreme being amongst us.

    Carville...stick it where the sun don't shine!

    May 26, 2010 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  6. BeverlyNC

    President Obama will do what is right and needed as he has on everything else. What is so maddening is that he has had to spend half his Presidency cleaning up Republican messes.
    Republicans deregulated the oil industry just like they did the banking industry and we see how well both of those turned out.
    We need to throw BP, a foreign company, out of our country and the corrupt Republicans out of Congress. Both are dangerous for America.

    May 26, 2010 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  7. 6cats

    Carville is completely right about what Obama needs to do, but what has the President been doing for the past 36 days?!! With that much oil gushing into the water, didn't anyone see this coming? Really?

    The President, EPA, and Mineral Management Services have dropped the ball in the worst way possible, and now every resource available needs to be send to the Gulf.

    May 26, 2010 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  8. Scott Steiner

    The major problem is not enough American's are upset by this disaster. Millions of Americans should want to be outraged. Millions of Americans should be calling, writing and emailing the White house, Senators, Congressmen, Ken Salazar and BP. If people die in a disaster we get upset. If an eco-system is destroyed we should get upset. The more we destroy mother nature the more we kill ourselves. I hope we wake up before its to late.

    May 26, 2010 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  9. Disgusted

    Whether it's the oil spill or doing something to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, Obama has been AWOL. Hillary tried to warn us during the primaries that if there was a crisis Obama would resort to his days as a state senator and just answer "Present" instead of doing anything or taking a stand. He thinks he can talk his way out of anything as evidenced a couple weeks ago when he called unemployment going from 9.7% to 9.9% "a good thing."

    May 26, 2010 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |

    Carville is a nut job. period

    May 26, 2010 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  11. Bill

    "And this president needs to tell BP: I'm your daddy, I'm in charge. You're going to do what we say."

    Way to Go!!! Jimmy!!

    May 26, 2010 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  12. Kenneth Howald

    I only wish that I were a fly on the wall of James and Mary"s breakfast nook...that has to be a blast over coffee.
    Once again, James has hit the nail on the head. President Obama needs to be more overtly responsive to this travisty, perpretrated by BP with great assistance from the Reagan, Carter, and most recently bush administrations. The aforementioned removed much of the oversight and regulation of big business. The idea that "big business" will self regulate itself is a fairy tale tantamount to the easter bunny. Big business will not self regulate if it affects the bottom line; and baby, everything affects the bottom line. So what we have here is an enigma wrapped within a cunundrum...without strong government regulation you will see these results repeated time and time again; i.e. banking, housing, military industrial complex, pharmaceuticals, need I say more...

    May 26, 2010 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  13. Eardley Ham, Woodbury, MN

    Unfortunately, there is no precedent for dealing with this disaster. However, lack of direction guided by previous action is not an excuse for what seems to be another Katrina-like response from the federal authorities.

    On one hand, it is ludicrous to suggest that the US military 'take over' the well-plugging process. The expertise and specialized equipment simply does not exist within any service branch. At best, the military (principally the Coast Guard and Navy) can provide 'grunt' equipment (ships) and the manpower to operate them.

    On the other hand, it is long past the time for decisive action by the president and members of the congress. We should immediately nationalize BP and any of the companies that were involved with this particular well project. The current executives of these companies should then be fired and replaced with operating panels staffed with the best minds in the country. All assets should be frozen and allocated to the process of capping this well and fully compensating every person who can show reasonable proof of damage.

    May 26, 2010 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  14. Smallpoint

    I thought David Gergen said it best: "If the US government responded to World War II the way it has responded to this oil spill, we would all be speaking German right now"

    May 26, 2010 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  15. Todd Iguchi

    Enough is Enough!!! BP has continued to be evasive in providing information they already know ... They are starting to use legal jargon in responding to how much they plan to pay out for their MESS. The possibility that they may only be held to a cap of $75 million, signals yet another "Bail-out" that will land squarely in the hands of tax payers. It is now time to launch a national publicly organized all-out boycott of BP. This will send a clear message that we the people of the United States will no longer be held hostage by big oil.

    May 26, 2010 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  16. dacajun

    I went though school with James. This is the first thing I have agreed with him on in a long time. If he is getting enough of Obama maybe there is hope for him yet.

    May 26, 2010 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  17. Andy

    I honestly do not want to play the blame game. However, I am deeply saddened that the government has not taken a more active role in solving the current crisis.

    If all the oil companies have already been paying into an emergency fund, why couldn't the government ask that their top experts all be made available to solve this crisis?

    May 26, 2010 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  18. Scott A

    The possibility of a Democrat in Washington D.C. having a backbone is the same of a Republican (any Republican politician) having a soul. It just doesn't happen all that often. Obama will never be the President he promised his supporters that he would be. However, he could be having his worst day as President and still be having a much better day than the bigots McCain and Palin would.

    Always remember that as bad as it is now watching the Democrats act like wimps, it could be much worse if the neo-conservative Alaskan with the 80 IQ was a stone's throw away from the Presidency.

    May 26, 2010 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  19. Jamey

    BP Ceo: Not So Fast Barry, we got this under control, give us more time... it will be worth it come November...

    May 26, 2010 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  20. co citizen

    My god, the gall of Mary Matalin!!!! Where was she when her former boss, Dick Cheney, was cutting deals with BP and the other big oil corps?

    I know what the immediate problem is and that it should be addressed by all concerned. But, we would not have the problem if the Bush-Cheney admin, of which Matalin was a part, had not turned the keys over to big oil in the first place. And as for Carville, he lost his credibility years ago when he married Matalin!!

    May 26, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  21. RobbW

    What I'd like to know is how long is it going to take and how much damage needs to be done before any politician works up enough testicular fortitude to take a 2×4 and whack Big Oil in the back of the head and say, "Enough is enough!"??? When will someone finally have the courage to look past all the money that Big Oil has flooded into the campaign coffers and stand up and do the right thing for once instead of being gagged and bullied into submission by lobbyists? When will politicians stop whoring themselves out to the highest bidder and actually work for the people for once?

    I'm just sick and tired of it! It has been well over a month since this oil spill started and there is currently no end in sight. BP lies and downplays the facts every chance it gets. Are they REALLY that inept and incapable of stopping this "leak" (more like a flood if you ask me)? Or do they really not want to stop it and permanently close off the well head? Seriously, think about it, if there is any possible chance that BP could somehow salvage this and eventually make money off this well, do you really think they'd be willing to make a real effort to close it down forever?

    Once again, the almighty dollar reigns supreme! Who cares about the lives, economies, and environments that are being destroyed?! As long as the potential for profit is greater than the final costs incurred, it is full speed ahead!

    May 26, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  22. mannytee89

    I just find it funny how BP leads us on by saying they'd try to clog the hole again today......only to say that we won't know if it worked until Thursday tomorrow...I'm sure they're trying, but really don't stop sugar coating it

    May 26, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  23. EM

    Are you telling me Obama hasn't visited yet? Are you kidding me?

    I shake my head in disgust. This "yes-we-can", so-called 'democrat' President is really no different than Bush. democrat, republican - they are all the same. They are all absolutely the same - in the pocket of big business.

    I am absolutely 100% sick and tired of capitalism.

    Time for a change ... a very very BIG change ... if you get my drift ...

    May 26, 2010 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  24. Bill

    Seize every asset BP has in this country. And that is just the beginning.

    If BP were a "terrorist" organization, we would be bombing them by now. What's the holdup?????

    May 26, 2010 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  25. AAslam

    Without the moral high ground or the expertise to confront this crisis, the US government has precious little ability to tell BP who its daddy is.

    It's essential to hold BP accountable for its mistakes and mismanagement, but what's happening right now is nothing short of a public lynching. This is particularly ridiculous when one considers that no one other than BP has the capacity to stop that leak, clean up the damage and pay back the affectees.

    The US administration has to get more involved with the aim of HELPING BP to stop this disaster from becoming an all-out catastrophe. Enough of this 'we've got them by the neck' and 'oh look, they're not doing enough' mantra... coordinate with those big, bad corporate guys and at least get out there to do what YOU can to minimize the effects of this spill on the shoreline.

    May 26, 2010 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
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