One speech we’d like to read

Normally, you write the speeches, and Vital Speeches editors read the speeches.

But sometimes we dream of speeches that never were, and ask, “Why not?”

The speech I’m dreaming of at the moment is a speech that I think ought to be written, and soon. It’s titled, “Who is in charge?” and it’s about the ongoing, gut-wrenching debacle in the Gulf of Mexico.

The president is criticized for trusting BP too much. BP is criticized for its poor safety record, which government regulators are criticized for not holding BP accountable for earlier. Later, Tony Hayward is criticized for saying the wrong things and the president is criticized for not appearing angry enough.

I use the passive voice for a reason: I don’t believe it’s the media who’s making these criticisms. I believe it’s us.

I think we are looking at this mess like eight-year-old boys and girls who just spilled the paint all over the driveway. We are looking at one another—how did this happen? We are looking for someone to blame. We are looking for someone to fix it, before the parents get home. But it’s starting to dawn on us, that only our parents can fix it.

Only in our case, the parents are dysfunctional, self-involved, divorced drunks, neither of whom knows how to get paint off asphalt, and neither of whom can remember who got the paint in the first place.

It’s chaotic down here, we don’t know who’s in charge, is what we hear the CNN reporters saying down at the gulf.

The truth is, and we saw this with the banking crisis too, we don’t know who’s in charge anywhere. And what’s more, we don’t even know who we want to be in charge. But we want someone to be in charge, even if it ends in a good spanking.

It’s as if we’re waiting for God.

God isn’t going to fix this, and the parents—both parents, government and business—have to sober up and have an honest conversation in the morning light, about how they can work together, not perfectly.

But more harmoniously and effectively than this.

Or something like that.

BP can’t issue that speech right now. Maybe President Obama could, but it’s hard to talk big-picture when you’re in the middle of a hot mess.

No, this is a job for a thoughtful CEO who has been contemplating these issues and come to a few surprising conclusions.

Mom? Dad? Are you out there?

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