The Republican Oil Spill

Posted on May 18, 2010


The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is presently about the size of Connecticut and growing, and any reference to size merely refers to as much of it as we can see.  Scientists assure us that 90% of the mess is under water.

And it’s getting pretty clear now why it happened.  Corners were cut.  Deadlines were prioritized over safety.  And, to make it all possible, there was a cozy relationship built up between the oil companies and government regulators, so that corners could be cut and safety seconded with oily impunity.

None of this “Washington regulation” business to get in the way of a quick profit.

Oh yes, and when I say “Washington regulation,” I am even quoting the quotes.  I take the phrase from a Republican policy document written in 2003 by Republican public relations superstar Frank Luntz.

On page 131 of the document, under the label, “The Environment:  A Cleaner, Safer, Healthier America,” are the sentences, “The core of the Democratic argument depends on the belief that “Washington regulations” represent the best way to preserve the environment.  We don’t agree.”

On page 136 of the document Luntz says to Republican policy makers, “You cannot allow yourself to be labeled “anti-environment” simply because you are opposed to the current regulatory configuration….The public does not approve of the current regulatory process, and Americans probably don’t want an increased regulatory burden, but they will put a higher priority on environmental protection and public health than on cutting regulations.”

This is a problem, Luntz says, even among Republican voters.  So how so can the Republicans deregulate environmental protection?  “Give citizens the idea that progress is being threatened by over-reaching government, and you will hit a very strong strain in the American psyche.”

There you go.  Republican policy.

Sell deregulation.  Sell small government.  Quietly cut environmental oversight.

(And buy big easy profits for your oil company friends.)

The subtext:  Your oil company friends will thank you come election time.

Oh yes, I’m sure they will.


The entire Lunzt document can be found  and downloaded (it’s a pdf file) at:

For another, deeper take on the issue see:

Posted in: environment, politics