Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), ranking member of the House Energy committee, where BP’s CEO is testifying today, just said: “It is a tragedy of the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown, in this case a $20 billion shakedown.”
Barton’s in an incredibly safe district. And it’s not like more than a handful of House Republicans have anything to worry about this Fall. But I’m certain we’re going to hear these quotes again and again on the campaign trail this fall in other more middle of the road districts. In addition to the above, Barton also apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward for what he had been put through yesterday by the president.
Demonizing particular individuals can go way too far. And we’re going to see a lot of it, just as we have in other calamities where the political breakdowns are different. But this almost literal groveling or knee-defense of BP executives is exactly what Democrats will want to show on a national level that Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue. And I suspect it will have a real effect, if only in strengthening a number of embattled incumbents.
Yesterday, Michelle Bachmann came out of the gates calling the escrow account plan an outrageous “redistribution of wealth.” But even she backtracked a bit. And I expect you’ll eventually see something similar from the House Republican Study Committee, after they released this statement yesterday.
Bachmann of course is pretty much written off as a nut. But I bet there are a number of GOP strategists wishing the rest of these folks would should shut up.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.