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President endures tough week over war, oil spill crisis

President Barack Obama appears to be coming off a less thanstellar week on the public relations front.

First, the commander in chief was placed in the unenviable positionof being publicly questioned by Gen. Stanley McChrystal regardingthe administration’s strategy in Afghanistan. In an article forRolling Stone, McChrystal and some in his inner circle of aidestargeted Obama and others over how they were choosing to prosecutethe war and whether the general would be in a sellable positionregarding the possibilities of success.

Not surprisingly, McChrystal was relieved of his duties Wednesdayamid the brewing firestorm over the magazine article. McChrystal’ssacking was understandable given the nature of a chain of commandand past examples, like President Harry Truman and Gen. DouglasMcArthur, of leaders dismissing commanders who question theirpolicies.

That Obama would tap Gen. David Petraeus as the new leader inAfghanistan is a strategically wise move, but also one that fliesin the face of campaign rhetoric and the “blame Bush” mantra somany Democrats chant.

Petraeus has been widely credited with implementing a successfulcounterinsurgency effort in the troubled Iraq in 2007, when Bushwas still president. If Obama is looking to a holdover from hispredecessor’s administration to help with the ongoing trouble spotof Afghanistan, perhaps Bush had a clue about what he was doing andhow to shift the tides of war.

From troubles in the Persian Gulf to public disapproval of thefederal government’s response to the oil spill disaster, Obama isfinding there are things presidents simply can’t fix in awave-a-magic-wand fashion – a trick Democrats seemed to expect ofBush while he was fighting the War on Terror and in the aftermathof Hurricane Katrina.

And Obama’s efforts are not aided when an over-the-top moratoriumon new drilling is not upheld by the courts. U.S. District JudgeMartin Feldman ordered the moratorium, hastily imposed by the Obamaadministration shortly after the April 20 rig explosion, liftedlast week and on Thursday refused to delay the lifting whileadministration lawyers sought to appeal the decision.

Quite frankly, the moratorium was overkill in response to anoverspill. Just because there was one rig disaster – and make nomistake, it is a disaster – both environmentally and economically -does not mean another is imminent and therefore all similaractivity should be halted.

Feldman rightly saw through this overreaction. The moratoriumlifting will allow many, including some from this area, to resumeattempts to make their livings in the oil explorationindustry.

Increased safety measures – both for workers and the environment -must be determined and implemented. But for the sake of thoseworkers and the economy, exploration cannot be halted while safetysolutions are found.