Patterico's Pontifications


Footnotes from Obama’s BP Meeting

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 7:10 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

A few more thoughts about today’s meeting between President Obama and the BP officials:

  • BP’s Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg is getting a lot of press for saying BP cares about the “small people.” He’s Swedish and this strikes me as a translation problem that shouldn’t be an issue. But it will be because too many people want BP to be mean, bad or evil — as well as financially responsible.
  • BP will not pay dividends this year. It’s only June and I assume that means BP won’t pay dividends for 3 quarters. I’m no stock market guru but odds are BP’s stock will go down following this news, along with the morale of its stockholders, other oil companies, and all of Britain.
  • Remember the report regarding President Obama’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu — the one where Obama left Bibi alone to go eat dinner with his family? Apparently the President is making a habit of going in and out of the room during meetings:

    “This is about accountability. At the end of the day, that’s what every American wants and expects,” Obama said after a meeting that stretched more than four hours, with Obama darting in and out of the room.”

  • What’s with this? Surely the President isn’t too busy to attend a meeting of this importance. If so, he needs to work on time management. If not, all I can think of is that Obama and his staff are being deliberately rude or conducting meetings by using a White House version of a Good Cop-Bad Cop.

    Frankly, I find this amazing. There are a lot of business and professional people who read and comment here. Does anyone conduct a meeting this way, or do you know any successful people who do?

    — DRJ

    56 Responses to “Footnotes from Obama’s BP Meeting”

    1. I’ve had the enter/exit/enter/exit routine during workshops, but usually not meetings. It’s usually announced beforehand as an unavoidable availability issue.

      rudytbone (eb3ac4)

    2. I always get my secretary to call me on my cell and I act like it is important, then leave, go drink coffee, and play a round of golf.

      Then I come back to the meeting for round two of the above.

      paul mitchell (f0ae8a)

    3. I’ve been in many meetings in my lifetime, and quite a few that were of importance. If someone I was meeting with did that to me, I would leave.

      Steve (39c281)

    4. I think it’s the car-buying, show-room technique. You know, you’re negotiating with the salesman and every time you make an offer or counter, the dude has to “ask my manager” and leaves, then returns with an answer.

      I guess Rahm, Axelrod and Michelle are behind the scenes and the pretend President has to go and talk to the actual decision makers.

      Either that or he’s checking basketball scores.

      PC14 (4a4ed3)

    5. Having never managed anything, Obama’s point of reference is likely what he’s seen on TV.

      I’ve experienced a few who believe that showing his/her face and uttering something they believe profound is leadership. In every instance, those megalomaniacs were exposed, and deposed, in short order.

      Matador (5f7b37)

    6. Re: the dividend

      BP shares rose on the news, but there will likely be fallout as funds geared to dividends/income dump it from their portfolios. It’s the smaller, long-term shareholders who will feel the bite here (that’s the ironic/offensive part of Svanberg’s comment).

      Also, most thought the worst-case scenario would be suspending for 2 quarters, as that would cover the $20B escrow. That it’s 3Qs tells you how political this was. The June dividend was declared in April. The next 2 dividends would be declared in July and October. Subtext: BP did not want to declare a dividend right before the midterms.

      Karl (5f0050)

    7. DRJ – I have never encountered that in any important meetings. Did they say how long he actually spent meeting with them?

      JD (4b684a)

    8. At this point, BP is using the Tylenol poisoning playbook. They know they are dealing with an irrational person who would as soon see them dead as not. They will do what has to be done. Then, I suspect, they will get as far from the US as possible. We are no longer a nation of laws.

      Zimbabwe, here we come.

      Mike K (82f374)

    9. Brings new meaning to:

      The One We’ve Been Waiting For

      PC14 (4a4ed3)

    10. He’s going for a smoke.

      (your guess is as good as mine as to WHAT he’s smoking.)

      jakee308 (ace517)

    11. Another explanation is that Obama wasn’t really integral to the discussion. Perhaps there was one or more people more knowledgeable about the details (wouldn’t be hard) who were the true point persons, and Obama had them do the meeting “in his presence” so to speak for the PR of it and nothing more.

      I said previously on a related thread that I didn’t think a meeting like this was necessary at all and a waste of time and expense. Obama has to have some technical people who can be in contact with the technical people at BP, including the top of BP that are far more technical than the one. In effect, the meeting could go fine without him and he get briefed on highlights.

      Yes, as rude as all get out, but he is the President, what are you going to do about it.

      If a person can never stick with a meeting for more than an hour without needing to leave the room. I would begin to wonder what it was the person couldn’t live without.

      MD in Philly (5a98ff)

    12. 10.He’s going for a smoke

      That would make sense, and be better than some alternatives- but he should get a patch and some gum.

      MD in Philly (5a98ff)

    13. PC14

      More like “the One we have been waiting for.” heh.

      And sorry, DRJ, i don’t let this guy off the hook this easily. If he wasn’t good with the language, you don’t let him be the voice of the company.

      Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (f97997)

    14. The people in this meeting weren’t the “problem solvers”, they were just working out the T’s and C’s (Terms and Conditions)…which we now know.

      What isn’t known, is what’s being done to “plug that damn hole”?

      On a side note, I saw that Obama is adding an “Oil Czar” to his Czarist collection, which strikes me as odd as it has to screw up his Org Chart. Is this Oil Czar at the top of the Chart or just one of many underlings??

      Clearly Obama is very deficient in Crisis Management skills…by this time, the reporting structure should be very clear and the only changes would be names, not new positions.

      The other point is I didn’t see representation at this meeting from the states involved, La, Miss, Ala, and Fla. Aren’t they interested parties as well?

      GoDad (6ed79d)

    15. Has anyone seen an explanation as to why Jamie Gorelick was there?

      JD (4b684a)

    16. JD,

      Gorelick was there as an attorney for BP. Or did you mean why did BP pick her?

      DRJ (d43dcd)

    17. Well then, they deserve what they get, and deserve what they give away. Everything she touches goes to hell.

      JD (4b684a)

    18. It is not uncommon for a CEO that comes in for the opening of meeting to show interest in the matter. Although for $20 billion dollar deals they usually will stick around for the whole meeting. Unless the CEO knows some of the terms and conditions may be illegal. Thats when they excuse themselves.

      Sanmon (319c0c)

    19. A-ll the major oil companies are international now but can split into an american and another holding internatioal assets.Exxon gets 2/3 of its profits from overseas.they haven’t revealed the % of the tax split.Clearly the risk reward ratio of doing business in the usa under this administration is outrageous.Managemant has a duty to protect company assets.One well taking the whole company down is more like independent wildcatting than corporate operation.

      dunce (3ef93a)

    20. “Little people” is a graceless phrase, but not something to get wee-wee-ed up over. I think Obama’s darting behavior is designed to symbolize his adminstration’s belief that they and The One are not part of the problem, but are demanding a solution.

      My analysis (ff017e)

    21. …what ever happened to ‘The buck stops here’?
      If you are looking for someone to lead you to a basketball court, golf course or to host celebrities at the White House, he’s your man…other than that you’re out of luck. Maybe we need a czar of bucks.

      Mike (41e14c)

    22. I believe BP had already agreed to suspend its dividends and put $20B into Obama’s escrow account before Obama went on TV and made his “demands.”

      BP and its employees have made financial contribtions to Obama over the years.

      Stu707 (0981d5)

    23. He had to run and hide while they loaded his next responses into TOTUS.

      Icy Texan (f9fbdf)

    24. Now the libs know Jughead to be incompetent, the right knows he’s a treasonous dog, and the center knows he’s a lying sack.

      Come January I’d prefer a President Biden.

      gary gulrud (790d43)

    25. The president was going out to confer with his advisors to find out what he thinks.

      Jeff Crump (80ea10)

    26. It’s common in my experience for the owner/CEO to be there at the start of the meeting to review the purpose and goals, but not to stay while all the details are hashed out. Bouncing in and out is unusual, though.

      As far as the BP stock price, my IRA is heavy on oil company stocks so I am sympathetic, but I think it is fair that this hits BP hard. From all accounts I’ve read, this happened because they were taking dangerous shortcuts to save money. They should pay the cleanup and compensate people for their (what looks to be huge) losses, regardless of what it does to the stock price, dividends or even their existence as a company. Anyway, given the size of BP’s self-inflicted disaster, a stock price drop seems like a valid market response.

      I am and have always been a proponent of offshore drilling, but if a company is going to damage our seas with their recklessness, then I want that company to pay until it is fixed no matter what it costs them.

      Disclosure – I live on the Gulf coast so have a personal interest in this.

      GB FL (1deedb)

    27. You misunderstand the point of the exercise, it was to extort BP into giving this slush fund, to prevent them from drilling, to make the Gulf Coast
      dependent on government, for everything. Meanwhile
      Petrobras, Sinopec, PEMWX, Lukoil and ARAMCO are
      laughing their asses at us

      ian cormac (2572a1)

    28. I have been on the receiving end of this treatment in meetings. It is intentionally rude, both parties know it, and because one party is subordinate or wants something it must be tolerated for the moment.

      The thing is, life is long. And the ill will this behavior engenders in the receiving party(along with all the people who hear about it) is undeniable. People will be doing this to Obama, and we will be reading about it. Bet on it.

      TimesDisliker (5f8833)

    29. I SO wish that the BP execs had called at the last minute and said they couldn’t come. After ignoring them (and demonizing them) for almost 2 months, Obama suddenly summons them to his office like he’s the principal and they’re 3rd graders?

      I expect his jumping in and out of the meeting was intended to keep the pressure on, make sure that all the peons knew that “the Big Guy” was taking this very seriously and they’d darn well better perform to his satisfaction.

      If BP wanted to fight back, I think they could really make him look like a fool in the media. But there’s no way a Swede would lead them that direction. And they don’t have a good enough sense of the culture to pull it off. (Obviously, therefore the “small people” comment.)

      Gesundheit (cfa313)

    30. I had a co-worker who would have one of his employees call his pager and pull him out of our daily production meeting for “something really important” (his words). Since the meetings seldom lasted more than 20 minutes and were themselves important, I got a little tired of this. On his return one day I asked him what was so important and why his well trained staff couldn’t handle it in his absence. The ops manager was in the room. End of pages during meeting.

      f1guyus (0af9f1)

    31. You know, this White House is starting to look like old episodes of The Office.

      Gesundheit (cfa313)

    32. One of Obongo first acts as president was to remove the bust of
      Winston Churchill from the oval office and ship it back to England.

      His disdain for the American people and the British is quite obvious.

      His rudeness to BP is now SOP.

      rab (7a9e13)

    33. crisis in da gulf?
      problems of nation deeper
      confidence crisis

      ColonelHaiku (523269)

    34. jamie gorelick
      steal 22 million dollar

      ColonelHaiku (523269)

    35. forget knife or gun
      obama bring big thief
      to bp meeting

      ColonelHaiku (523269)

    36. BTW- when Obamba left Bibi to “go have dinner” with Michelle and the girls it was a big fat lie!!!!…. they were in NYC on Spring Break.
      link to michelle and the girls in nyc during spring break

      ruby nachom (9a12f9)

    37. The President cannot be present while people are being threatened, so he steps out while Rahm talks extortion and comes back in to shake hands on the deal.

      Kevin Murphy (5ae73e)

    38. Why did BamBam duck out of the meeting several times? Simple. You can’t smoke in the White House…

      NavyspyII (df615d)

    39. I am and have always been a proponent of offshore drilling, but if a company is going to damage our seas with their recklessness, then I want that company to pay until it is fixed no matter what it costs them.

      Disclosure – I live on the Gulf coast so have a personal interest in this.

      Comment by GB FL — 6/17/2010 @ 4:33 am

      Problem is that the only reason BP and others are drilling at 5k feet is that they have been barred from drilling where it is safer. ANWAR, and shallow water areas. Ultimately, this was caused by excessive, and nonsensical regulations.

      NavyspyII (df615d)

    40. Czar Tales..

      Many folks have wondered why this meeting did not take place by the second week of this event!!!

      Holding BP responsible for the financial costs for obomatrons dictates is totally illegal! He is the one that forced all those folks to the unemployment lines, but then thinks 7$ an hr Census worksers can fill the gap! BP should have told him to go to hell on that 100 million dollar point!

      But then again, this entire nation seems to hate him so much worse than Jimmy C, it don’t matter at this point. Give him a Diamond, that’el shut him up!

      Seems to me that the “Small People” term was forwarded by the press, BP reused it and got slammed for it!

      BP should tell the press it’s pulling all it’s gear, closing all stations, and departing, TODAY! Let all those smart politicos fix this thing!

      I notice that all the pity pics are of birds, turtles and fish, nobody pines for snakes and gators any more. 🙁

      The Oil Drum…

      A most excellent source for real information by many folks that actually know what they are talking about, some of them can even share such information in a form most of us can actually understand too.

      TC (d10a59)

    41. Obama probably leaves when the conversation gets too deep for him to handle. He walks out, does a quik Google search on the subject at hand and rejoins the conversation. He’s a real joke and I agree with the commenter who said that if someone did that to him, he’d leave.

      Quik Hit (ad1d5d)

    42. My ex-wife used to do that a lot when we were out to dinner, or at a club. Turns out she had a $300 a day coke habit (one of many reasons she’s now my ex wife). Can’t say for sure what prompted Barry to bail out so often.

      Do they piss test at the White House?

      JJG (01853e)

    43. #

      Why did BamBam duck out of the meeting several times? Simple. You can’t smoke in the White House…

      Comment by NavyspyII — 6/17/2010 @ 7:54 am


      yeah, that’s actually a pretty good guess, now that I think about it. Obama’s speech was terrible and he’s frequently golfing (an outside activity, where he can smoke). He famously boasted about his coke habit in his book.

      His job is stressful on the best days. Now, a huge problem is causing massive destruction and he’s probably completely stressed out. I would bet he was smoking to relief tension. And if that’s the problem, he should just smoke during meetings. It’s not pretty, but he needs to be at his best (however lame his best may be).

      Dustin (b54cdc)

    44. There was a clip on TV a few weeks back where Obama said to someone who is a smoker, that he has stopped smoking (again), and that if the other person needed advice in how to do that, he should give B a call.

      But, knowing his past performance, he was either lying about stopping smoking, or has fallen off the wagon again.

      AD - RtR/OS! (76c972)

    45. When I was in ad sales and an ad agency person kept me waiting for more than 30 minutes (without anyone coming out to tell me why they were delayed), I usually walked out. Then I waited for the inevitable call expressing outrage and lack of respect, followed by another meeting that was both prompt and usually productive. My bosses didn’t appreciate my tactics at times, but the point was made in the end and usually for the better – for both parties.

      Simply put, he didn’t respect them and they allowed him to disrespect them. Ultimately, that’s why they got rolled. If you allow someone to act as though your time isn’t valuable, that will be the end result.

      Dmac (3d61d9)

    46. I sat through the deposition of a Plaintiff where his attorney took phone calls, left the room, ate his lunch, and did all sorts of things designed to impress on us h ow important he was and how insignificant we were. I could have asked the Plaintiff to admit he wasn’t entitled to anything, in the lawyer’s absence, and he wouldn’t have known until the transcript came back. Needless to say, his practice is now non-existent–what goes around inevitably comes around.

      Champaign Dweller (ae9c58)

    47. This is somewhat off topic – but I just watched the bit about Kevin Costner’s oil clean-up machines. I’m wondering if it is legal to take your own boat out there – process some seawater to remove the crude oil – and then sell the oil. And if it is legal, I wonder if it would be profitable.

      If so, that might be a great business to be in right now! Heck, it could be a sort of back-up business for fishermen. Let them haul in crude oil and sell it during the time they can’t go fishing.

      Of course, people might make money doing this, and that would be a sin in the Church of Socialism.

      Gesundheit (cfa313)

    48. SOP. He voted “present” and then left.

      Icy Texan (94a0eb)

    49. We find these truths self-evident!

      AD - RtR/OS! (76c972)

    50. I’m wondering if it is legal to take your own boat out there

      Do it and dare them to stop you. Would not look so good on the evening news, … for the next week.

      MD in Philly (5a98ff)

    51. Gotta agree with those speculating he might have a coke habit. There are other signs as well, in his face, body and behavior. Would love to see him have to pee in a cup.

      starboardhelm (94c0da)

    52. @Gesundheit — 6/17/2010 @ 11:58 am

      Heck yes it’s legal. Marine salvage. Costner could loan a bunch of his machines to out-of-work fisherman and give them a bounty for the oil they collect based on the price he can get for it. I’ve been wondering why no one has stepped in with a program like this. (Aside from the turf wars it might engender. And possible fraud — people could mix waste oil with water and skip the collecting etc. Tests would need to be set up, but it could be done.) Anyway, Costner — I know a company that can build some of those machines for ya —

      starboardhelm (94c0da)

    53. Does anyone conduct a meeting this way, or do you know any successful people who do?

      Why is Obama being compared to a successful person?

      Brad (d739c6)

    54. Obama is neither a business person nor a professional. And I agree with Brad, why is he being compared to a successful person? Obama is a complete failure. Were he not a person of color we wouldn’t be engaged in any discourse regarding him.

      Rookdick (cd6b1d)

    55. Tony Hayward say
      dreadfully sorry old chaps
      shakedown in Summer

      ColonelHaiku (523269)

    56. The sun never sets
      On ColonelHaiku’s empire
      Toodle Pip, Old Shoe

      TimesDisliker (4e8c6e)

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