Bashing Sailor Tony Hayward Is Childish, Misplaced and Dumb
I won’t mince words.
What’s he supposed to do? Take a BBC camera crew into the Church of England and show his repentance? Would that make the BP bashers feel better?
The guy is toast. Rapping him for taking his son to watch his boat sail in a major yachting race is spooning marmalade on that burnt slice.
The world is perception and Tony Hayward is the poster child of one who doesn’t get it. The world also is substance and that’s where the focus ought to be: Stop the damn blowout.
Following the lead of Rahm Emmanuel, the president’s chief of staff who would cut his own mother’s throat if he thought it would score political points, others became lemmings jumping off the cliff.
Emmanuel on ABC’s “This Week,” said Hayward’s day at the yacht races is “part of a long line of P.R. gaffes and mistakes.”
“To quote Tony Hayward, he’s got his life back,” Emanuel said.
In an interview Saturday with Fox News, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) described Hayward’s version of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off “the height of arrogance.”
“I can tell you that yacht ought to be here skimming and cleaning up a lot of the oil,” Shelby said. “He ought to be down here seeing what is really going on. Not in a cocoon somewhere.”
I didn’t even bother to watch or download the other Sunday talk shows to see politicians or talking heads kick the BP big shot while he’s down. Don’t care.
I had seen enough Saturday night on CNN, NBC and CBS. Those copy cat producers were instructing field reporters to interview oil blowout victims.
A typical response extracted from a CNN reporter from a Cajun fisherman: “Uh, yeah,” he agreed.
The feeling is more:
“Man, that ain’t right. None of us can even go out fishing, and he’s at the yacht races,” said Bobby Pitre, 33, who runs a tattoo shop in Larose, La. “I wish we could get a day off from the oil, too.”
Not that Hayward doesn’t deserve a good thrashing.
My theory is if the way he muddled and stonewalled through the blowout crises is a reflection on how he runs the world’s fourth most profitable corporation, he rose through the ranks via the Peter Principle.
From interviews and emails sent to the New York Times from a BP spokeswoman, Sheila Williams, Hayward is still in command despite the capping and cleanup in the Gulf operations taken over by the American Robert Dudley, BP’s chief of oil drilling management team.
“Tony receives regular updates from the gulf,” Williams said in an e-mail message.
“Obviously, Tony’s main priority remains overseeing all BP operations,” she said. “Over all, there will be some responsibilities handed over, but Tony will remain in full control until we have stopped the leak.” I suspect after that, Hayward will be out of a job.
On May 31, six weeks after the blowout, Hayward confided to a British television station he “wanted my life back.”
His first chance, apparently, was Saturday to view the rich folks’ yachting race around the Isle of Wight. His boat “Bob” placed fourth.
As usual, his timing was impeccably awful. Especially at a time victims are waiting for their claims checks from BP and 60,000 barrels of oil are gushing into the Gulf.
Testimony at Coast Guard inquiries and congressional hearings has established that BP engineers, at the urging of top management, were rushing and cutting safety corners to get the Deepwater Horizons well into operation because the delays were costing them millions of dollars.
Hayward is not the only BP official prone to gaffes. BP board chairman Carl-Henric Svanbert last weekend referred to Gulf residents as “small people.” He apologized and most reasonable and tolerant people forgave him since English is not his native language.
What cannot be forgiven is the proven incompetence and pending criminal activity against BP officials that so far has killed 11 crew on the now sunken oil platform and spewed nearly 4 million bpd from the blowout into Gulf waters since April 20. The water and marshes are turning into killing fields for birds and wildlife. In recent weeks, a siphoning process is capturing about 24,500 bpd daily when the system isn’t broken down.
Gulf residents are scarred veterans of disasters and Tony Hayward is only the latest straw man they have heard issue false promises and low-ball disaster damages.
They pay no heed to Hayward. Their focus is twofold: Stop the blowout and how soon can Kenneth R. Feinberg, the new claims czar appointed by President Obama, begin processing and streamlining the issuance of checks.
Folks, I’m sorry if you think this post is a rant. But, gosh darn it, we are facing the worst accidental environmental disaster in our nation’s history. Now is not the time to vent a spleen over perceptions, images and perceived political correctness. Hayward, who certainly is culpable for the disaster, is now out of the picture and I suspect in due course will receive his comeuppance by being axed by his board as well as in the U.S. courts. In the meantime, if he chooses to sail on a Saturday, that’s his business. He’s got his life back as he wished.
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