A ball in the president's court
Q: President Obama finally meets this week with BP chief Tony Hayward on the Gulf oil spill. From a leadership perspective, which man has been the less effective in his handling of the crisis? What should he have done differently?
It's clear that neither the president nor Mr. Hayward has handled the situation perfectly. This meeting, while a positive development, should have occurred far earlier. Had it done so, all parties would be better off today. Instead, we have been treated to a process in which BP appears inept and perhaps even negligent while the president appears driven by primarily by political calculations, which have led him to adopt styles that clash with his image as a cool, pragmatic leader committed to reasoned dialogue.
What is important now is to cool the rhetoric, focus on the future, not the past, and to demonstrate a joint determination to solve the problem as efficiently and equitably as possible. I believe that the primary responsibility for setting the stage for such an outcome rests primarily with the president. It will be interesting to see if he chooses it or an alternative path.
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