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Ron Cruger
The Starbuck's Seven discuss the Gulf Oil Mess
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The Starbuck's Seven discuss the Gulf Oil Mess
            Dick was always the first one to show up. He was retired and greatly anticipated the Starbuck’s sessions. He ordered his large, black coffee, carried the steaming cup to the Starbuck’s patio, pushed two square tables together and waited for the others.
          I was the next one. I greeted Dick, shook his strong hand and then left him outside while I ordered my small, decaf coffee. Dick always frowned when he saw me with the decaf. He’s a macho guy and decaf coffee, to him, is sissy stuff.
          Steve, the handsome and smart black man arrived next. He ordered his expresso and said “hi” to me, then to Dick. Steve still looks like a college athlete, even though he’s in his forties, married, with two children.
          Minutes later Mary, Aimee, Helaine and Helen showed up. They ordered their drinks, came to the table and sat down.
          The seven of us sipped our coffees, then, Dick, as he usually does, started the discussion.
          “This Gulf catastrophe looks like it isn’t going to end until the oil runs out. It’s the kind of thing that could cause Obama to lose the next election. He’s going to get blamed for this tragedy sure as shootin’.”
          Aimee, whose family comes from Hong Kong and whose father is one of the richest men in China, spoke up. “I have a hunch you’re right. The Republicans, the Tea Party, all those people are going to set aim on President Obama and somehow blame him for that oil well exploding, the deaths of the eleven men and the fouling of all that property in the Gulf.”
          “Well, he is president, isn’t he. All of this happened on his watch. The buck stops with him, he even said that.” Added Helen.
          Steve, leaned back in his chair and said, “Y’know, this is getting silly. Why not blame the President when there’s an earthquake or a flood or an eclipse of the sun. He’s got a catastrophe on his hands and he’s doing everything possible to fix it. If anyone wants to get angry and blame someone, blame British Petroleum. It isn’t doing the country any good to blame the President. Would a Republican president be doing any better? What would a Republican do differently? What would anyone do differently?”
          Helen had been listening to every word. She had been patient. She had a strong opinion. “Look, the president could have done more. He could have called out the Army, Navy, Marines and National Guard the first day of the trouble. He could have had every scientist in the country sitting out there in the Gulf on boats, trying to stop the flow of oil, but I don’t know what good any of that would have done. There have been 20 million gallons of oil spewing out of that well a mile under the ocean and every expert from BP and all the oil companies have done their best to stop the flow and nothing has worked so far. He has thousands of people laying booms and clearing up the beaches. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what else he can do.”
          Helaine, was bursting, “I can’t help but think what everyone would be saying if George W. Bush was still president. The press and everyone would be all over him and call it his failure. Every Democrat would be blaming Bush for everything. They’d have no mercy on him. So now it’s Obama’s turn to get some blame.”
           Mary stood up, “What I don’t understand is how anyone in his or her right mind can blame any president for what’s happening. The greatest experts in the world are working on stopping the oil from escaping and they haven’t figured out how to do it. Maybe this country of ours has changed. Maybe people just need someone to blame for everything that happens. The Democrats and the Republicans just sit around in Congress and wait for the other to make a mistake and then they hop in it. Nothing seems to be happening except finding blame. Guys like Rush Limbaugh are having a field day with the blame. Enough is enough.”
          Dick put down his almost empty cup of strong, black coffee, pushed his chair back and stood, “You folks know me, I’m no big supporter of Obama. He’s getting us in debt up to our asses, but I gotta tell ya, it’s time that we got behind him and supported his efforts in the Gulf. It isn’t doing any good for us to blame him for what’s happening. Those poor people in that area are going to have a tough time recovering from this disaster. They’re going to need all of our help. Look, it happened, now let’s get it fixed and start helping our fellow Americans. I say, let’s support our president and all the people who are suffering and will suffer for years to come.”
          Helaine had more to say. She sipped her Carmel Macchiato. “I heard this guy on the radio saying that Obama caused this thing so he could get more control over the oil companies. The guy said that Obama has plans to extend his control over all energy sources in the country. He’s already taken over the car industry and the banks. The guy says that Obama has a long range plan to run the country and he’s really dangerous.”
          “That is the nuttiest thing I’ve heard lately,” added Steve. “I agree with Helen. The guy is doing everything he can do. I think the real problems are going to start when the oil under the ocean stops flowing and the real damages are seen. Then we will see what the president is going to do to help the thousands of people who have been affected by the millions of gallons of oil fouling up the ocean, beaches and marshlands. All we can do is pray that the people of BP can figure a way to stop the flow. Just wait until later, when the stuff hits the fan.”
          Aimee, quietly said, “I have an uncle and an aunt who live in Louisiana. The do shrimp fishing for a living. There business is in the tank. Their boat is sitting in oil and they can’t leave the shore. Uncle Louis thinks it will be years before things get back to normal. Years! I think it’s going to be interesting to see what the president does to help people like my uncle and aunt.”
          “You can almost tell what’s going to happen. If the president helps the people of the Gulf too much he’ll be called a Socialist. If he holds back and doesn’t help them he’ll be called cold and uncaring. The guy can’t win.”
          Dick, sipped the remnants of his coffee, pushed his chair back and stood. “Well, folks, that’s it. Let’s go home and back to the jobs. Me? I’m going home to watch the television to see if those guys have stopped the oil flow. Be sure to watch the president tonight. He’s going to talk about what’s happening in the Gulf. Should be interesting.
          I chucked my empty coffee cup in the trash, said goodbye to the others and headed for my car, thinking about what’s going to happen to the price of shrimp.