Newsweek asks presidential historians what other presidents would have done with BP





...[W]e asked presidential historians to help us speculate as to how the past five U.S. presidents would have handled the BP oil spill if they were still in office. The question isn’t who would cap the leak quickest —all of them would have been at the mercy of BP—but, rather, how their leadership styles would have guided their responses, and what lessons Obama can learn from them....

George W. Bush: The Crowd Reader

Timothy Naftali, director of the Richard Nixon Library, says one of Bush’s biggest mistakes from a symbolism standpoint was his chosen method of assessing the damage after the storm. “He got into trouble because he flew over Hurricane Katrina,” he says. “That’s the worst way of doing it. If you fly over, it looks like you don’t want to interact with the people. You either don’t go and make the argument that it would be too disruptive for the president to visit the site, or you just have the disruption and fly down.”...

Bill Clinton: The Compassionate Hugger

President Clinton most likely would have let his “I feel your pain” compassion guide his public response to the oil spill. Affectionately nicknamed “Bubba” for his Southern roots, and genuinely convincing in the role of a concerned statesman, Clinton practically oozed empathy. “He would have been on the scene instantly, hugging those persons affected by the spill and sharing their pain,” says presidential historian H. W. Brands....

Ronald Reagan: The Fighter

Reagan publicly thrived when he had an enemy to defeat, says Douglas Brinkley, who edited The Reagan Diaries. So his first order of business following the spill likely would have been to choose an antagonist, like BP, and give it a nickname (see also: “the Evil Empire”). “If you’re looking at Reagan’s style, it’s right out of the gate, you go after the polluter,” says Brinkley. “Even if behind the scenes you have to negotiate with them because they have to cap the spill.”...


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