The Moment

6|16|10: Washington

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"I can't dive down there and plug the hole," President Obama told diners at Camardelle's Live Bait & Boiled Seafood on a recent swing through Louisiana. "I can't suck it up with a straw." The Commander in Chief wasn't exactly losing his cool, but his words did spout from a rising well of frustration. The candidate of hope--who won the White House promising a new era of government competence--has found himself powerless in the face of a pipe on the seafloor, which has been gushing now for two months, as much as 2.5 million gal. (9.5 million L) a day. So he does what he can: a prime-time address to the nation from the Oval Office, a perp walk of BP CEO Tony Hayward and other execs outside the White House, a call for the giant oil company to set aside some money in escrow to pay for the damages. Of all people, Obama knows that this is not enough. He has watched approval ratings for his handling of the spill fall as far as George W. Bush's following Hurricane Katrina. Americans don't care about what Obama can do with a straw. They want a President who can get that hole plugged.