For general discussion and debate. Possible talking point: How would media be treating George W. Bush...
Imagine that a few months after a new president takes office, his administration approves an offshore oil well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico. It is to be run by BP, whose employees were very generous donors to the president's campaign. The oil company airily dismisses the possibility of a catastrophic leak that might destroy the coastline. Nearly a year later, the president-to the dismay of his environmentalist supporters-says he wants to greatly expand offshore drilling. Soon after that, the BP well explodes, and oil spews into the gulf. It's clear to everyone that the blowout is a major catastrophe, requiring a federal mobilization. But the president's initial response is to say, in effect: do not worry, BP will pay for the cleanup. Eleven days pass before he goes to survey the scene...Imagine the reaction of Washington-the media, Congress, the "national conversation"-if the president wasn't Obama but George W. Bush. "We would be under siege," says Dan Bartlett, who was communications director in the Bush years. "There'd be calls for special prosecutors, investigations everywhere. The focus wouldn't be on what was happening out in the gulf-it would be on what happened in the West Wing."