Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010

Thad Allen

Highs: The gruff Allen, a retired admiral and former commandant of the Coast Guard who helped manage the response to Hurricane Katrina, was a rare reassuring presence in the troubled federal efforts to control the Gulf oil spill. It was Allen who ran the near-daily press conferences, and who was the final authority for any decisions made by BP as it struggled to repair the ongoing leak. No one came out of the spill clean, but Allen made out better than most.

Lows: Even though the chain of command put Allen at the top, there were still times when it seemed that BP-the guilty party-was running the shop. Too often the federal response was slow to dispense information, leaving a vacuum. And at the end of the day, it still took months for Allen's team to finally close the leak-staining his boss President Obama with a daily reminder of failure.

Bryan Walsh