Speech Revision Analysis: President Obama's Remarks on the BP Oil Spill


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For purposes of this assignment, President Obama’s speech will be assessed based on Lloyd Bitzer’s rhetorical situation (1992) and on the characteristics of cooperative argumentation posed by Josina Makau and Debian Marty (2001), as well as other concepts fundamental to strategic approaches to presentational speaking. It will then be further analyzed for its strengths and weaknesses, as they pertain to strategic rhetoric, and be ultimately revised to better achieve its desired strategic outcomes.

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Speech Revision Analysis: President Obama's Remarks on the BP Oil Spill

  1. 1. Strategic Approaches to Presentational SpeakingSpeech RevisionSubmitted to Dr. Brendan Kelly, University of West FloridaValeria Lento7/5/2011
  2. 2. SELECTED TEXTRemarks by the President to the Nation on the BP Oil Spill: June 15, 2010 at 8:01 p.m. EST, Oval OfficeELEMENT I – ASSESSMENT OF SELECTED TEXTOn June 15, 2010, United States President Barack Obama delivered a 17-minute broadcasted addressfrom the Oval Office on the oil spill caused by the explosion of British Petroleum’s (BP) DeepwaterHorizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, eight weeks earlier.In his speech, President Obama touched on the environmental and economic devastation caused by theDeepwater Horizon explosion, highlighted the actions taken by the federal government to expediterecovery, addressed BP’s responsibility to the American people, and promoted energy legislation, stalledby the Senate at the time of his address.For purposes of this assignment, President Obama’s speech will be assessed based on Lloyd Bitzer’srhetorical situation (1992) and on the characteristics of cooperative argumentation posed by JosinaMakau and Debian Marty (2001), as well as other concepts fundamental to strategic approaches topresentational speaking. It will then be further analyzed for its strengths and weaknesses, as theypertain to strategic rhetoric, and be ultimately revised to better achieve its desired strategic outcomes.Context and GenreMakau and Marty (2001) argue that communication contexts are central features in any deliberativeargument, including public address such as that given by President Obama in June 2010. The context ofa rhetorical act is framed by the situation constructed by the issues at hand, the speaker and theaudience. Thus, in order to thoroughly assess the efficacy of the President’s Oval Office address, it isimportant to understand the context in which it was given.Situational AnalysisOn April 20, 2010, an explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig 40 miles off the coast of Louisianakilled eleven workers, injured 17 others and spewed more than 100 million gallons of oil into the Gulf ofMexico. The international media propagated images of the devastation – human, environmental andeconomic alike. The national media posed questions about the U.S. government’s competency andsense of urgency in dealing with the crisis, with several political commentators referring to the oil spill asPresident Obama’s Katrina, in reference to the criticism that surrounded President George W. Bush’sresponse following the devastating hurricane that swept through New Orleans in 2006.The general public’s disapproval of the President’s handling of the crisis was palpable in the media. Daysbefore President Obama’s address from the Oval Office, a USA Today Gallup Poll indicated that 53% ofAmericans, including one in four Democrats, rated the President’s performance on the oil spill as “poor”or “very poor.” Additionally, 71% of respondents felt as though the President was “not tough enough onBP,” and alluded to his apparent handover of the crisis to BP and the U.S. Coast Guard. Lento 2
  3. 3. Also important to the framing of the context of the speech was the fact that early in his term, PresidentObama had highlighted offshore drilling as an importantly needed component of the country’s energypolicy. Additionally, in early June 2010, the President had called on the Senate to address carbonpollution, a call that was met with opposition by Republicans. According to several media articles, whilethe House of Representatives had passed climate change and energy legislation, similar actions were ata standstill in the Senate at the time of his speech.Standpoint, Power and PerspectiveIn order to further understand the dynamics at play at the time of President Obama’s remarks, it isimportant to also take into consideration the concepts of standpoint, power and perspective, whichMakau and Marty (2001) attribute as analytical touchstones for this type of assessment. On June 15,2010, President Obama addressed the United States from the standpoint of the country’s Commander inChief, Chief Executive and Head of State. This standpoint was inarguably constructed by the President’sinstitutional power, which in turn made up his perspective – that is, his insights into issues of legislation,national security, the economy, and the environment in light of the oil spill.President Obama’s standpoint, power and perspective further play a role in defining the genre of thespeech act. Not only were his remarks a broadcasted presidential address, but they were also madefrom the White House’s Oval Office, a forum most often reserved for extremely momentous messages.For example, President Bush addressed the country on the evening of September 11, 2011, from theOval Office, as did President John F. Kennedy in delivering news of the Cuban Missile Crisis, andPresident Ronald Reagan following the Challenger disaster. Most notably, this was the first time thatPresident Obama used the Oval Office as a rhetorical backdrop in his presidency. As such, the messageof the presidential address was elevated and categorized as grave.Rhetorical SituationAs Makau and Marty attribute context to being a fundamental part of deliberative argumentation, sodoes Bitzer (1992) argue that every rhetorical situation is inherently framed by three constituents, whichexist even before the creation and presentation of any discourse. These are exigence, audience andconstraints, and each provides additional insight into the context and rhetorical situation present duringPresident Obama’s address.ExigenceSimply stated, an exigence is “something waiting to be done” (Bitzer, 1992, p. 6). Within the rhetoricalsituation, the controlling exigence is that which specifies the audience and addresses the changewanted. In President Obama’s speech, the exigence surfaces as a call on the audience to draw on itspresent-past to view the oil spill crisis as an environmental 9/11. By alluding to the present-future – thatis, the audience’s interpretation of the country’s environmental future given the present devastation –President Obama reaffirms the need for immediate action on a comprehensive energy policy for the U.S.The speech thus leverages the oil spill as the reaffirmation of the exigence – that is the promotion ofaforementioned legislation. Lento 3
  4. 4. AudienceAccording to Bitzer (1992), every rhetor must consider his or her audience before preparing a speech,taking into consideration that audience’s values, beliefs, assumptions, concerns, interests andexpectations. Similarly, Makau and Marty (2001) attribute the audience with granting meaning to anoral text, as well as with contributing to the decision-making process in public address contexts.Due to the genre of the rhetorical act, on June 15, 2010, President Obama addressed a general audiencemade up of the viewing American public, members of Congress and people from countries around theworld – all contingent within the structure of motivation set forth by the rhetorical act. These can befurther categorized as the empirical audience.While President Obama posed issues of sensitivity combined with calls to action on environmental andeconomic issues for a general audience, an assessment of his speech poignantly highlights languagetargeted to a much more specialized audience, one made up of members of Congress and subsequently,of those individuals within the empirical audience who would be capable of being “mediators of change”(Bitzer, 1992, p. 7). This audience can be further defined to be the composite deliberative community, asit includes people who can be critical thinkers, listeners and viewers and make informed decisions aboutthe issues at hand (Makau & Marty, 2001).ConstraintsBitzer defines the third constituent in the rhetorical situation as those having “the power to constraindecision and action needed to modify the exigence” (Bitzer, 1992, p. 8). In the case of this particularspeech act, the constraints include holdups in the Senate, characteristics of opposing views, includinghow the exigence itself is perceived, if at all.Perceived Desired Strategic OutcomesBased on this assessment of the speech’s context, audience, exigence and constraints, PresidentObama’s desired strategic outcomes for his Oval Office address on the BP oil spill are perceived to be asfollows. 1. To express empathy and urgency in responding to the oil spill crisis, per the general public’s criticism of his immediate response and performance following the spill 2. To demonstrate relentlessness in making BP accountable for the oil spill and its aftermath, per the general public’s concerns that he had not being stern enough with BP 3. To call on Congress to push along a comprehensive energy legislation, parts of which remained stalled in Congress at the time of his Oval Office address 4. To encourage individuals within the speech’s empirical audience capable of being mediators of change to recognize the immediate need for the passing of energy legislation in order to prevent such environmental crises from occurring in the future Lento 4
  5. 5. Analysis of Text’s Strengths and WeaknessesWith an understanding of its context and rhetorical situation, as well as with perception of its desiredstrategic outcomes, President Obama’s Oval Office address will now be analyzed on its strengths andweaknesses, prior to being revised to best meet its desired outcomes.StrengthsPresident Obama met the general public’s criticism of his handling of the oil spill crisis early on in hisspeech, briefly highlighting the timeline of the federal government’s response and role in tackling thechallenges posed by the spill and the results of efforts undertaken to date, including its appointment ofa notable team of experts in environmental issues. He went on to stress the government’s role in thecleanup – “the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history” – and its commitment to thecontinued efforts to protect the coastline and its wildlife as best as possible. Additionally, the Presidentcalled on the general public to provide its feedback regarding mobilization of federal resources andassistance, acknowledging that such an effort “will never be perfect,” but that he and his staff remaincommitted and prepared, stating that he will “refuse” to let Gulf Coast residents’ way of life be lost.The President met the criticism of his lack of sternness toward BP with ramped-up warrior-like languagethat painted the oil spill more as a military battle than an environmental disaster, with poignantlanguage that included words and phrases such as “the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that isassaulting our shores and our citizens,” and “epidemic,” “fight,” and “jeopardy.” Additionally, PresidentObama vowed to “make BP pay for the damage their company has caused” by calling for a BP-financedcompensation fund and continuing to allude to making “BP pay for the impact this spill has had on theregion.” The fact that its delivery was given from the Oval Office further highlights the serious andmilitaristic tone of the President’s address.Ultimately, President Obama made an obvious call to Congress, demonstrating the need forcomprehensive energy legislation that looks to alternative energy sources and aims to reduce thecountry’s staggering dependence on oil (“We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but we haveless than 2% of the world’s oil reserves”). Additionally, his speech alluded to the creation of more U.S.jobs as the country recovers from a recession (“the transition to clean energy has the potential to growour economy and create millions of jobs”), as well as to an urgent need (“ – but only if we acceleratethat transition”).Finally, the speech strongly leveraged the audience’s shared identity, common essence and sharedconviction (Charland, 1995) by drawing on mental images of the devastation as a way to draw audiencesolidification and further make the call to take immediate action in passing legislation that promotesclean energy (“the time to embrace a clean energy future is now”) and will save future generations froma threat “by a menacing cloud of black crude.” In an emotionally charged rallying cry to “unleashAmerica’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny,” President Obama drew an us-versus-themplatform by which the audience can stand together. Additionally, by drawing on America’s history, hewas able to further permeate a message of resilience and unification. Lento 5
  6. 6. WeaknessesThough for eight weeks following the oil spill and preceding his address, the President had beencriticized for not expressing any empathy or personally connection to the crisis, he did not utilize hisJune 15, 2010 speech to do so. Rather, he used warrior-like vocabulary from the onset and alluded tothe toll human lives and residents’ way of life from a factual standpoint that appeared emotionallydistant. With this address being his first since April 20, 2011, the President could’ve drawn more heavilyon the “Yes, We Can!” rhetoric that made him a charismatic leader early on in his presidential career –and which was expected at such a time. Additionally, the President appears to have focused far more onthe long-term implications of the country’s dependence on oil than on the immediate impact onpeople’s lifestyles and the Gulf Coast’s position as a tourism and fishing hotspot. Finally, though hisoverall message appears to have been crafted to ultimately promote legislation, it was imperative forthe President to “frame *his+ positions in ways that would be meaningful for audience members withdifferent interests and needs,” (Makau & Marty, 2001, p. 165). Though the President evidently aimed toacknowledge the public’s concern for his lack of response, his speech fell short on addressing theaudience’s expectation of empathy. He failed to acknowledge the emotional needs of Gulf Coastresidents in particular, whose lifestyle will be forever impacted. Though his speech ended in a touchingmanner, the language appears to have been buried too far into the speech.While the President’s ramped-up words against BP and his verbalized commitment to “make BP pay” forthe oil spill and its aftermath did go in hand with his desired outcome to demonstrate his relentlessnessin making BP accountable, his direct and determined tone seemed far more analytical thancompassionate. Additionally, his mention of a BP-financed compensation fund did not offer any specificson how and when it would be executed or what it would cover, leaving questions for those affected bythe tragedy first-hand, especially.Lack of specificity further weakens the President’s ability to strongly call on Congress to pass energylegislation and his ability to unify voters in supporting clean energy. Though President Obamaintroduces the need for a comprehensive energy bill, he lacks supporting evidence for such a bill. Whatwould it include? What would it require of Congress? Of the American people? Of other world leaders?What are some of its economic implications? What would be the course(s) of action needed to pass it?In failing to provide evidence to strengthen his argument for comprehensive energy legislation,President Obama weakened his call to Congress and subsequently to the empirical audience.Finally, while the President leveraged the audience’s shared identity as a way to draw solidification forclean energy legislation, his timing within the rhetorical situation appeared insensitive. This, combinedwith his inability to provide evidence to support such legislation, further weakened the reach of hisspeech’s desired strategic outcome.ELEMENT II – SPEECH REVISION**See attached documents: (1) Speech Revision with Tracked Changes (2) Revised Speech Lento 6
  7. 7. ELEMENT III – SUMMARY OF REVISED TEXTPresident Obama’s June 15, 2010 address was revised to better meet its aforementioned perceiveddesired strategic outcomes. What follows is a brief analysis of the revisions that were made and thereasoning behind them, beyond the comments included within the tracked changes made to the revisedspeech text (see attachment 1).Because one of the weaknesses identified in the President’s speech was its failure to meet theaudience’s expectation of empathy, its language has been revised to be more emotionally charged,driving to the heart of the matter – the fact that people lost their lives in the oil spill and that hundredsof thousands of others’ lifelines are being threatened by the spill’s environmental impact. By drawing onhis established charismatic image, President Obama would best be able to lead with the human tone theaudience expected (especially given that the speech came eight weeks after the oil spill) before divinginto the more logistical parts of the matter and ultimately making a call for clean energy legislation.While this revised language more poignantly conveys empathy, it does not lose the President’smilitaristic tone when it comes to relentlessly fighting the environmental impact of the spill and holdingBP accountable to it. After all, one of his perceived desired strategic outcomes was to demonstrate hisrelentless less in making BP pay for the oil spill and its aftermath.Additionally, because of the context in which the speech was delivered – that is, amid the generalpublic’s criticism of the President’s seeming lack of urgency in the matter – the immediacy of the federalgovernment’s response has been purposely underscored in the revised text.While the President’s ramped-up words against BP, as well as his expressed commitment to hold themaccountable, was in line with one of the desired outcomes of his speech, he did not provide details onthe compensation fund he was demanding from the corporation. Because hypothetical details of thisplan could not be incorporated into the revised speech, the revision does allude to those details in orderto leverage the audience’s ownership of the situation. President Obama would then have been able tofurther leverage the solidification of the audience later on in his address.For example, in discussing the Gulf Coast Restoration Plan, the revised speech text continues to leveragethe tone of a shared initiative. By directly addressing the audience and alluding to how the issue at handhas impacted everyone, the President would have been able to more strongly unify the audience withand set the basis for making his ultimate call to action.The revised text heavily leverages the vivid imagery and emotional appeal the President used in hisspeech to allude to the “consequences of our inaction” to precede the substantiation of his claim thatit’s time for America to “unleash” its innovation for a “transition away from fossil fuels.” Sequenced inthis manner, the words tie the President’s call to action to the current event, helping highlight itsrelevance within the speech, rather than coming off as a mere legislative plug. The revisions made in thissection of the speech strategically highlight the urgent tone and set a strong message by highlightinghow the audience – in this particular case, the Senate, most pointedly – can help make it a reality. Most Lento 7
  8. 8. notably, the revised text wraps up the legislative push by connecting it with a sentiment oftogetherness. This sentiment could be capable of more strongly encouraging individuals within thespeech’s empirical audience capable of being mediators of change to recognize the immediate need fora clean energy bill.It’s important to note that when it comes to the clean energy bill itself, the President’s lack of specificityweakened the reach of his desired strategic outcome. As such, a revision would include a more detailedoutline of his proposal. In order to help meet this outcome despite its lack specifics, the revised textleverages the ideas and approaches deserving of consideration presented by the President as strongexamples. In this manner, the call for the bill remains strong, regardless of a lack of description. ThisFinally, President Obama leveraged the audience’s shared identity in a strongly emotional manner in thelast portion of his speech. However, the original speech’s lack of empathy and seemingly insensitivelegislative plug within an address delivered eight weeks following the country’s worst environmentaldisaster weakened the President’s ability to meet his desired strategic outcomes. As such, in the lastportion of the speech, the revised text seeks to reassert a message of empathy and togetherness, whilebringing back a unified sense of responsibility to seek a solution. This approach helps further strengthenthe President’s perceived commitment to the issue. A few additions made to the third-to-last paragraphhelp mirror the sense of faith in the future that the President originally alluded to. In this placement, theappeal to faith and courage allows the sentiment to linger as the speech closes, ultimately tying allelements of the speech together and arguably, cementing the President’s arguments in such a mannerthat he would have been able to better meet the perceived desired strategic outcomes of his speech.Results from surveys conducted after President Obama’s remarks on June 15, 2010, reveal adissatisfaction with his remarks, more notably as it pertained to his seeming lack of a concrete actionplan and response. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of 1,000 American citizens conducted June 17-21 revealed the President’s rating had dropped five points in a month. Additionally, for the first time (asquantified by similar surveys), more people (48%) of those polled said they disapproved of his jobperformance. More poignantly, in a CBS News/New York Times poll, 56% of individuals who watchedPresident Obama’s Oval Office address said he did not appear to have a clean plan to deal with the oilleak. Additionally, the same poll indicated that 59% of those polled overall (including 64% of Gulf Coastresidents) agreed with this sentiment.These statistics offer a narrow, albeit telling, glimpse into how the President came short of achieving hisdesired strategic outcomes. The revised speech attempts to better meet the President’s perceiveddesired strategic outcomes. If implemented, these tactical revisions could have helped strengthen acritical rhetorical act that will surely become a piece of U.S. history. Lento 8
  9. 9. REFERENCESBitzer, L. (1992) The Rhetorical Situation. Philosophy & Rhetoric, 25, 1-14.Charland, M. “The Constitution of Rhetoric’s Audience.” Annual meeting of the National Communication Association/American Forensic Association (Conference on Argumentation), 1995.Makau, J., & Marty, D. (2001). Cooperative Argumentation: A Model for Deliberative Community. Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc. Lento 9
  10. 10. ELEMENT II – ATTACHMENT 1: SPEECH REVISION WITH TRACKED CHANGESThe White HouseOffice of the Press SecretaryFor Immediate ReleaseJune 15, 2010Remarks by the President to the Nation on the BP Oil SpillOval Office8:01 P.M. EDTTHE PRESIDENT: Good evening. As we speak, our nation faces a multitude of challenges. At home, ourtop priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly everyAmerican. Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al Qaeda wherever itexists. And tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about theenvironmental crisis being faced by our neighbors along the Gulf Coast. They have lost loved ones andtheir lifestyles and surroundings are being threatened by the millions of gallons that have spilled into theGulf of Mexico over the past weeks.On April 20th, an explosion ripped through BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, about 40 miles off thecoast of Louisiana. Eleven workers lost their lives. Seventeen others were injured. My thoughts arewith their families and with all of the men and women who call the Gulf Coast home. Thank you forbeing so hospitable and forthcoming with me during my recent visits. Have no doubt that your country isstanding behind you, your loved ones and your region.Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. Soon following theexplosion of the rig, nearly a mile beneath the surface of the Gulf, oil began spewing into the water,assaulting our shores and our citizens.Because there has never been a leak this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of humantechnology. That’s why immediately after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s bestscientists and engineers to tackle this challenge -- a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winningphysicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academiaand other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.As a result of these efforts, we’ve directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. And inthe coming weeks and days, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of thewell. This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that’s expected to stopthe leak completely. We will relentlessly hold BP to meeting that expectation. Lento 10
  11. 11. . The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico pose an environmental threatunlike an earthquake or a hurricane. Its damage is one that we will be fighting for months and evenyears.And make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes. We willmake BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to helpthe Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy. As is the nature of the American people, westand united to fight this challenge.Tonight I’d like to lay out for you how we will do that going forward: what we’re doing to clean up theoil, what we’re doing to help our neighbors in the Gulf, and what we’re doing to make sure that acatastrophe like this never happens again.First, the cleanup. From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge ofthe largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history -- an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen,who has almost 40 years of experience responding to disasters. We now have nearly 30,000 personnelwho are working across four states to contain and clean up the oil. Thousands of ships and other vesselsare responding in the Gulf. And I’ve authorized the deployment of more than 17,000 National Guardmembers along the coast. These servicemen and women are ready to help stop the oil from comingashore, they’re ready to help clean the beaches, train response workers, or help with processing claims -- and I urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible.Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water throughburning, skimming and other effective collection methods put in effect immediately following theexplosion of the rig. Over five and a half million feet of boom has been laid across the water to blockand absorb the approaching oil. We’ve proactively approved the construction of new barrier islands inLouisiana to try to stop the oil before it reaches the shore, and we’re working with Alabama, Mississippiand Florida to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines. Comment [V1]: The immediacy of the federal government’s response has been purposely underlined in the revised text. The general publicAs the cleanup continues, we will offer whatever additional resources and assistance our coastal states had severely criticized the President’s seeming lackmay need. Now, a mobilization of this speed and magnitude will never be perfect, and new challenges of urgency in the weeks leading to his speech (8 weeks after the oil rig’s explosion).will always arise. I saw and heard evidence of that during this trip. So if something isn’t working, wewant to hear about it. If there are problems in the operation, we will fix them. This is my commitmentto you.But we have to recognize that despite our best efforts, oil has already caused damage to our coastlineand its wildlife. And sadly, no matter how effective our response is, there will be more oil and moredamage before our work is done. That’s why the second thing we’re focused on is the recovery andrestoration of the Gulf Coast, of its people’s lifelines and of their homes.For generations, men and women who call this region home have made their living from the water.That living is now in jeopardy. I’ve talked to shrimpers and fishermen who don’t know how they’re Lento 11
  12. 12. going to support their families this year. I’ve seen empty docks and restaurants with fewer customers -–even in areas where the beaches are not yet affected. I’ve talked to owners of shops and hotels whowonder when the tourists might start coming back. The sadness and the anger they feel is not justabout the money they’ve lost. It’s about a wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost. I refuseto let that happen.Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whateverresources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as aresult of his company’s recklessness. And This compensation fund will not be controlled by BP. In orderto ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and willbe administered by an independent third party. We will lay out the specifics of this plan, andinformation will become available immediately following its approval. We are committed to ensuringthat its mission is carried out effectively and will hold BP to it. Comment [V2]: The President’s mention of the BP-financed compensation fund did not offer specifics on how and when it would be executed, orBeyond compensating the people of the Gulf in the short term, it’s also clear we need a long-term plan what it would cover. In order to strengthen histo restore the unique beauty and bounty of this beautiful region. The oil spill represents just the latest speech, more detail should be provided here. For purposes of this revision, those details have merelyblow to a place that’s already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental been alluded to.degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. And the region still hasn’t recoveredfrom the devastation left behind by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s why we must make acommitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment.I make that commitment tonight. Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, who is also aformer governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf CoastRestoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes,fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents and will be shared accordingly to beginthe restoration process immediately and relentlessly. Rest assured that BP will pay for the impact this Comment [V3]: Details of this plan were not readily available at the time of the speech. Yet,spill has had on the region. because of the President’s reference to this being a holistic plan that would take input from severalThe third part of our response plan is the steps we’re taking to ensure that a disaster like this does not individuals/organizations, the revised text underscores the fact that it will be shared once ithappen again. A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under becomes available.the assurance that it would be absolutely safe –- that the proper technology would be in place and thenecessary precautions would be taken.That obviously was not the case in the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why. The families Imet with last week who lost their loved ones in the explosion -- these families deserve to know why.You deserve to know why. And so I’ve established a National Commission to understand the causes of Comment [V4]: Addressing the audience further enhances the deliverability of the President’sthis disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we message to “take action.” Alludes to how the issueneed to put in place. Already, I’ve issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. I know this impacts everyone; gives personal ownership to the suffering from the repercussions of the crisis atcreates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety, and for the sake hand.of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue. And Lento 12
  13. 13. while I urge the Commission to complete its work as quickly as possible, I expect them to do that workthoroughly and impartially.One place we’ve already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuingpermits, known as the Minerals Management Service. Over the last decade, this agency has becomeemblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility -- a philosophy that sayscorporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency,industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with giftsand favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their ownregulations.When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up theworst of the corruption at this agency. But it’s now clear that the problem there ran much deeper, andthe pace of reform was just too slow. And so Secretary Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership atthe agency -- Michael Bromwich, who was a tough federal prosecutor and Inspector General. And hischarge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog --not its partner. We will be acutely watching BP. We will ask questions. We will demand answers. We willnot allow this kind of environmental catastrophe to occur again. Comment [V5]: It is necessary to tie the “solution” back to the “problem” to enhance the President’s call to action for legislation (into whichOne of the lessons we’ve learned from this spill is that we need better regulations, better safety he immediately moves in the next paragraph).standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling. But a larger lesson is that nomatter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greaterrisk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have lessthan 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a milebeneath the surface of the ocean -- because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallowwater.For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades,we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And fordecades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again,the path forward has been blocked -- not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of politicalcourage and candor.The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entireway of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude. We cannot consign our children to thisfuture. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the timeto embrace a clean energy future is now. Comment [V6]: The vivid imagery and emotional appeal (i.e. children, future, tragedy) set a much stronger tone with which to precede theThis is not some distant vision for America. Now, the transition away from fossil fuels is going to take substantiation of the President’s claim (the need tosome time, and there are costs associated with this transition. And there are some who believe that we unleash America’s innovation…). The revised text reflects this.can’t afford those costs right now. I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy - Lento 13
  14. 14. – because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are fargreater, as evidenced by the events of April 20th. Comment [V7]: Ties the urgent call to action to the current event, helps highlight its relevance within the speechNow is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovationand seize control of our own destiny. Already countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and Comment [V8]: Echoes the “now is the moment” sentiment.industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth toforeign countries for their oil.When I was a candidate for this office, I laid out a set of principles that would move our country towardsenergy independence. Last year, the House of Representatives acted on these principles by passing astrong and comprehensive energy and climate bill –- a bill that finally makes clean energy the profitablekind of energy for America’s businesses. Comment [V9]: Continues to echo the urgent tone and sets the stage for the call to action and for highlighting what the audience (particularly, theOver the last year and a half, we’ve already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy Senate) can doindustry. As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines, people are going back towork installing energy-efficient windows, and small businesses are making solar panels. Consumers arebuying more efficient cars and trucks, and families are making their homes more energy-efficient.Scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technologies that someday will lead to entirelynew industries.As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economyand create millions of jobs -– but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment.And only if we rally together and act as one nation –- workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens;the public and private sectors. Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit all of us. Comment [V10]: Wraps up the call to action by cementing the sentiment of togetherness.I’m happy to look at ideas and approaches from either party -– as long they seriously tackle ouraddiction to fossil fuels. Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in Comment [V11]: Lack of specificity on a clean energy bill weakens the reach of the President’sour cars and trucks. Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes desired strategic outcome. As such, a revision wouldfrom wind and solar power. Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the include a more detailed outline of his proposed comprehensive energy legislation. For purposes ofhigh-tech industry does on research and development -– and want to rapidly boost our investments in this revision, those details have been listed as ideassuch research and development. and approaches deserving of consideration. Thus the call to action for the bill remains strong, regardless of the lack of description of the bill itself.All of these approaches have merit, and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. But the oneapproach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challengeis somehow too big and too difficult to meet. You know, the same thing was said about our ability toproduce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harnessthe science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again,we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a Lento 14
  15. 15. nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny -– our determination to fight for theAmerica we want for our children. Comment [V12]: Due to the lack of details provided on the proposed bill, these words seem to highlight a lack of procedural guidance/objective.It’s a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors inthe Gulf right now.Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that wasbrought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,”and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safetyand success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea -– some for weeks at a time.The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. It took place after Katrina, and it took place a fewweeks ago –- at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.And still, they came and they prayed. For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition,“The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that Heis with us always,” a blessing that’s granted “even in the midst of the storm.”The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we willsurely know them again. What sees us through -– what has always seen us through –- is our strengthand our resilience. In the midst of a devastating environmental disaster, we remain united as neighborsand we remain steadfastly committed to do something about it. Comment [V13]: Reasserts the message of empathy and togetherness, while also tying in a unified sense of responsibility – and on theMost importantly, what pushes us forward time after time is our unyielding faith that something better President’s side, commitment to the issue.awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it. Comment [V14]: Mirrors the sense of faith and belief in the future that was afore removed in theTonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may revised text. The appeal to faith and courage, in this placement, allows the sentiment to linger as theguide us through the storm towards a brighter day. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the speech culminates.United States of America.END8:18 P.M. EDT Lento 15