Obama press secretary: "Pounding on a podium isn't going to fix the hole in the ocean" (6/4)
Q Can you talk about the criticism that the President isn’t making that emotional connection with people over the spill?
MR. GIBBS: You know, I -- this one is -- I said this last night -- if jumping up and down and screaming were to fix a hole in the ocean, we’d have done that five or six weeks ago. We’d have done that the first night. I think we’re going to be judged and the President will be judged on our response and our recovery efforts to what we all know now is the worst environmental disaster in our nation’s history. But pounding on a podium isn’t going to fix a hole in the ocean.
I think what the American people and the citizens of the Gulf are expecting are results. And I think that’s what the President will be measured by. I’ll leave emotional psychiatry to others.
Q What about -- there have been -- some criticize that he did not spend enough time talking to the “real people” on the ground. Was that a decision not to do that?
MR. GIBBS: Well, I will say the Mayor of Grand Isle told -- well, first of all, I think there was pretty large representation of people in that room. The Mayor of Grand Isle, who generally has, as he said, 10,000 people on his beach for Memorial Day weekend wasn’t likely to have any, as he said. He talked about putting his own credit card out to help fishermen who can’t fish meet their expenses. Similar stories that the President got several weeks earlier from fishermen in the Gulf region.
The President is well aware of the pain and suffering that this accident is causing. And that is why he’s asked that we do everything we can. That’s why very early on in this process, the Small Business Administration set up a process for many of those small business owners to obtain very low interest loans while economic damages are recovered from BP.
Q And since the White House has been -- or the administration has been calling a lot of the shots on what takes place in this -- in the Gulf, did the White House pressure at all BP to make the kind of public apology that we’ve been seeing from the CEO in the print and also this video release where he’s been saying “I’m sorry”? Was the White House -- did the White House push for this?
MR. GIBBS: I don’t know if others had conversations; whether Admiral Allen, who talks with the CEO, has had conversations. I don’t think there’s any doubt, Dan, that we’ve seen comments from the CEO that he’s apologized for -- rightly so. I don’t -- look, I don’t think a CEO needs to tell people in the Gulf that there’s not any pollution or he’d like his life back. There’s 11 people that we’d all like to have their lives back that were killed the very first night of this incident. And the harm that’s being done there will take years to fix. We will hold BP responsible throughout this process.