U.S. President Barack Obama is heading for the Gulf of Mexico. His plan is to visit Gulf States not yet as heavily impacted by the tragic oil spill that occurred several weeks ago. His field trip has the potential to either help or hurt his administration's current situation. It is a very important leadership opportunity, of which he and his people must take advantage.
Better information flow -- The fact-finding journey presents a chance for the President to learn more from his own experiences than he can glean from reports. Planners of the trip will help the cause if they have avoided keeping the President too much in a "bubble." Like all of us, what he sees - the pictures he retains as mental images - will be worth thousands of the words he reads. Likewise, the unfiltered words he hears directly from people in the field have the potential to impact the President's thinking in significant ways.
Risks on the trip -- This trip will not be his first to the region. The President has some experience with the crisis by now, and is operating on a set of assumptions. If he does not allow new facts to modify his preconceived ideas, he will be missing an opportunity to change direction where it is desperately needed. In addition, the President tends to mistrust the media, which might bias his opportunity to enlist the press as part of the solution, rather than dismiss them as part of the problem. They will be there, like it or not.
A great deal of potential for good or ill -- As President Obama proceeds along the way, let us hope that he is well aware of what could go right or go wrong. Pundits have already pointed out that his address to the nation at the end of the trip is set to come from the oval office, a first for his presidency. One might guess that the President understands the great potential already. We shall see as the we go along on the trip with him. As for me, I wish him well. The Gulf could use a little good news for once.
Bonus links to related resources (HT to my regular contributor, Jon):
"America's ALWAYS tried to do down Britain#," is by Geoffrey Wheatcroft from The Daily Mail.UK (6/11/10)."AP IMPACT: Many Gulf federal judges have oil links#," is from Yahoo! News (6/6/10)."Scenes From The 2010 Gulf Oil Spill#," is from CNBC (updated after 5/28/10). Slide show: 51 slides"In Photos: Haunting images of the gulf oil disaster#," is from Yahoo! News (5/24/10).