The Measure of a Man

By dancingintheraine

July 17, 2010

Category: Uncategorized

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By Martha Randolph Carr, June 8th, 2010

Priorities are often a good sign of what someone is really thinking. We can tell what matters by where they are willing to first put their money, or by the first words out of their mouth, after something really big has happened. The immediate actions are a glimpse at what really matters to someone, before they’ve had a chance to hire some talking heads and rewrite the story.

Cartoon by John Darkow – Columbia Daily Tribune

This is helpful in an age of spinmeisters who are so good at getting us to drink the Kool Aid and agree that up is down or billions of gallons of spewing oil is only a temporary setback or an unfortunate incident.

Tony Hayward, CEO of BP is giving us some insight into his particular affections for us by choosing to spend millions on an ad campaign last week to talk directly to the people. Meanwhile, his company released a statement that they’d help out area businesses who were hurt as long as their claims were legitimate. They’d like to err this time on the side of caution.

Rather than pour billions of dollars, or at least millions, into helping the small businesses and American families’ bottom lines that are going to become extinct right along with the wildlife along the East Coast, BP has instead hired Anne Womack-Kolton to wipe off all of the inky black goo and help us be grateful BP is still there.

By now, everyone’s early warning system should be blaring because of the lines we’re about to be fed, wholesale. Keep a picture of all of the pelicans coated in oil close by as a handy reminder.

Womack-Kolton is previously best known for being Dick Cheney’s former press secretary and part of the PR firm that worked so hard to make Big Tobacco not smell so bad.

BP has some big image building to do in order to not go down in history as the company that caused the largest natural disaster in the history of the US, and by the time it’s over perhaps the world. Forget that BP also has another oil leak in Alaska to contend with right now or that they have one of the worst records of any of their peers. That’s a tall order.

Hayward has also chipped in $25 million to promote Florida beaches in yet another ad campaign. It appears that he is a big fan of Mad Men. Apparently no one told him just how much TV Americans like to watch too. We’ve already seen endless coverage of the oil balls coming ashore and the long, slimy snake of oil that just keeps building. Telling us that it’s really not as bad as we can see that it is gives one more glimpse into how we can expect the cleanup to be handled.

Just to help them out, here’s another recent example of what to do after you’ve screwed up in public and hurt someone else. Last week umpire Jim Joyce blew a call during a game between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians calling Cleveland’s runner, Jason Donald safe when he was clearly out. The call cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. The incident could have spun out for the next few weeks as a nasty footnote in American sports.

However, immediately after the game Joyce realized his error and asked to speak with Galarraga so that he could apologize. He was still in his uniform. Apparently it’s rare for umpires to admit when they’re wrong but Joyce didn’t hesitate, didn’t make excuses and didn’t have someone else deliver his apology for him. He didn’t even try to buy the pitcher dinner in an attempt to make him feel better. Galarraga, for his part, accepted the apology and the loss of a mention in baseball’s history, with immense grace never losing his cool or his smile.

The next time Joyce came onto the field to call another game, Galarraga came over to greet him and shake his hand, his smile still in place. Even the Detroit fans were cheering for Joyce who was moved to tears. A perfect game was lost but a moment of inspiration was created that touched far more people.

It was all a reminder that when someone is truly sorry they don’t give you explanations in some kind of attempt to manipulate your reaction. They don’t hire PR firms to write a better back story either.

They stand out in front of it all and take responsibility, pour all of their resources toward fixing the actual problem, which is not their corporate image, and they leave the rest to history. Keep following the money, and just the money, and you’ll know where BP’s true intentions lie.


Martha’s latest book is the memoir, A Place to Call Home. Email Martha at:

©2010 Martha Randolph Carr. Martha’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info call Cari Dawson Bartley at 800 696 7561 or email


Good write up. An important thing to remember is that while the initial cause of this entire disaster is under investigation, BP did everything possible AFTER the break to properly cap this. It’s important to remember that most of the traditional manners to stop a leak do not work at this depth. Also, the Coast Guard has the majority vote on what plans of action are initiated in the Gulf. Considering that dispersals were found NOT TO WORK back in 1989, I’m not tracking why they, including the Coast Guard, would promote using it.. ? I do agree that personal response is something to judge the true intent of an entity (from an individual to a company). Perhaps they didn’t respond correctly, and the money would be better used going towards the businesses, but I do agree that the claims need to be legitimate. That is only prudent in business.

Something that needs to be brought out is that this country is fueled by fossil fuels. And until this country finds safer energy forms, this sort of tragedy will always be in the curtains waiting to happen. There are great pots of oil reserves in controversial places, and with that drilling there will be the chance of tragedy. As long as we continue buying oil from the Middle East and crackpot countries like Venezuela, we will be politically active with those countries and you may not like the route that is taken. All the power sources that you are utilizing in your hybrid and electric cars? No realistic recycling to properly and safely dispose of those batteries in an environmentally friendly manner exists. The measures that European countries use are not realistic for most of this country purely because of the vast size of it. I do support SAFE public transportation, especially trains, but even the train system does not go everywhere.

Also, we need to address the sensationalism of the media for not accurately reporting the news. It’s great for news to splash oil-covered wildlife and beaches all over the place. It’s also great for news to let you know that BP has another failed attempt. But what they DON’T tell you is that BP is doing everything that it can, that BP is attempting things that have never been attempted at this depth, that the same people that worked on this rig (creating it, drilling, etc,) are the same people that work on every other rig. There are only a handful of people that specialize in this kind of work, and they have pretty much done all the oil rigs. And while I am sensitive to what is happening to the environment, while my heartbreaks for the damage that is being done, it is the responsibility of the news media to report the story in its entirety. Quit leaving out aspects of the story to fit your agenda, or the agenda of a paying politician or entity. You have a responsibility to report the news, the whole news, and nothing but the news.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that while there is definitely some blame that needs to be directed to BP definitely for how they reacted to the public outcry, we also need to look at ourselves for allowing something like this happen. Are you utilizing alternative transporation instead of jumping in your car? Are you supporting research in looking for realistic energy alternatives and recycling? Are you reducing your carbon footprint? Are you supporting companies that are lowering their carbon footprint and utilizing recycled materials? While it’s difficult to not see the oil slicks on the beaches, the inital blame must be placed on us, the U.S. citizens, for creating and sustaining the demand for fossil fuels.

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