Now that I have had a day to absorb and assimilate the House committee drilling of BP CEO Tony Hayward, some impressions people of higher intelligence may not have reached.
Bart Stupak. Joe Barton. James Quinn.
First, Mr. Stupak.
He chaired the committee and asked probing, specific questions of which most the BP big wig either dodged or stonewalled. I haven't seen a prosecutor that tough since the fictional one in "Anatomy of a Murder."
“We had really hoped by giving you information that you’d be better prepared to answer our questions,” Stupak admonished when closing the hearing. Ouch.
What stuck me is that Stupak is retiring since first elected to the House in 1993, representing Michigan's 1st District.
Prior to Thursday, the only time the nation realized Stupak was in Congress was late last year and early this year when he opposed the health reform legislation until his anti-federal-funding abortion amendment was enacted to his satisfaction.
The national spotlight was so bright it made Stupak blink and led to his decision not to seek a 10th term in Congress. A time to move on, as he put it.
What I saw Thursday was a congressman who no longer feared voter backlash and did his job, in this case one tough dude taking no guff from the CEO of the world's fourth most profitable corporation.
Three cheers for a lame duck. I had thought it made a case for term limits. But, the way the seniority system works in Congress, I'm not so sure.
Joe Barton has been in Congress since 1985 and has no reelections problems from his Texas district. After telling the BP big shots he thought the Obama administration committed a shakedown for circumventing legal channels to establish an escrow fund to pay claims to Gulf Coast oil spill victims, he reversed course, apologized and retracted his early statements.
Why? Not because they weren't true in his opinion. But, because the Republican leadership threatened to remove him from his seniority posts on committees.
Now, which of the two congressman wins the Profiles in Courage award?
James Quinn. He's the London Telegraph's U.S. Business Editor, and brings that perspective in chronicling America's "troubles."
Let's review some of his perceptions from Thursday's hearings:
So, what did we learn? Was there a ’smoking gun?’ No, not at all. If there was a key lesson from today’s hearing, it was that Tony Hayward came to the committee not wanting to give anything away, and managed not to. That shone through in the politician’s increasing frustration with him, as he resorted to either saying he didn’t know, he wasn’t involved in the decision, or that it was subject to the ongoing investigation of the Deepwater explosion. Granted, Hayward is the chief executive of a massive multi-national company, and he cannot be expected to know every answer to every question, but given the intense focus which he is under, it would made sense to have at least spent some time investigating some of the likely areas of interest. Unless of course, that was his plan all along: plausible deniability. If that was the plan, he executed it perfectly.
And, this gem:
Congressman Peter Welch is bitter: “Your answer 65 times that you don’t know, doesn’t inspire confidence.”
Quinn has been in the U.S. too long, perhaps, for he speaks not of his countrymen's favorite new pinata. The once popular and now Mr. Evil Barack Obama.