I heard on the news this morning that BP has decided to pull Tony Hayward away from his role as the public face for the oil spill that continues to plague the Gulf Coast. Apparently they have decided it would be better to have American executives take over the role because they fear anti-British sentiment is rising in the U.S.
Make no mistake. It's not anti-British sentiment, but anti-Tony sentiment that is the problem. It's not just that effort after effort to plug the leak has failed. It's that Tony Hayward has been wrong about pretty much everything to this point. And not just wrong, but arrogant and insensitive in the process.
He insisted the environmental damage would be "modest" even as oil was headed to the Louisiana marshlands. He continued to allow his company to use dangerous dispersants even after the EPA told them to find something else. He insisted there was no scientific evidence for the existence of an oil plume beneath the surface of the water. According to CNN, "researchers at the University of South Florida have completed laboratory tests confirming that the oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico has collected into oil plumes beneath the surface. The plumes are as wide as 6 miles, though their lengths are unclear, researchers said." Now he's telling us that workers who have been sickened are just suffering from food poisoning, even though they are not all from the same area.
This week, he told us nobody wants to get their life back more than he does. Is he kidding? None of the fisherman in Louisiana are going to get their lives back anytime soon. Tony may not get his life back either after the mess he has created with his poorly chosen words. With BP's survival coming more and more into question, I don't know how he can survive as its leader.
Today, despite outrage over $50 million spent in advertising to help BP's image, those ads continue to run. BP, you want to make this right? You can start by actually cleaning up your mess. You need to pay for the berms needed to create barriers off the coast. You need to clean up ALL of the soiled beaches, EVERY day. You need to follow through on promises of payment to fishermen. You need to do whatever it takes, instead of just telling us you're going to do whatever it takes.
BP, you need to worry less about your image and pull your PR campaign because it's just making us angrier, particularly as we watch the pictures of wildlife covered in oil, and the faces of men and women who make a living off of the coast, wondering how they're going to pay their bills.
BP, you need to do right by those who were killed and injured in the explosion of the rig. There will a poignant reminder of the irreparable harm your decisions caused this week, as the families of the 11 men killed travel to Washington to meet with President Obama on Thursday. You can't fix the damage to those families - families who will never get their lives back to where they were - but you'd darn well better do everything you can to help them.
The rest of us need to take a hard look at ourselves. Like the families of coal miners killed, the families we'll see at the White House this week are the faces of the price that we pay for energy in the United States. The reality is that we cannot just stop drilling for oil, anymore than we can just stop mining for coal. But we have to be prepared to do what it takes to make both industries as safe as possible. More than that, we have to be prepared to make some sacrifices as individuals.
Good grief, we don't blame Britain for the mess in the Gulf. We are all responsible, in some way, for the mess that's spreading further each day. As a nation, we are becoming increasingly anti-BP, which is unfortunate because of all of the honest people who are connected to BP, who are just as sickened by the same images we all see.
We're not anti-British, but we have become anti-Tony.