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Will Americans Be Angry at BP? Probably Not, Since We Seem to Love Big Business

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This post originally appeared on No More Mister Nice Blog. Aimai yesterday:

Obama, as usual, is both lucky and unlucky in his enemies. Lucky if he chooses to seize the moment and really bring the hammer down on large industries. Unlucky if his move to the center on drilling enables the press and the public to see the this oil spill and its clean up as his fault.

I'll admit I'm being thoroughly cynical, but I don't think the administration has to worry about the latter reaction from the general public -- sure, quite possibly from us lefties, but not from anyone else. Similarly, I think  Fox News is salivating over a treat it's not going to get:

White House Fends Off Specter of Katrina in Federal Response to Oil SpillAs the massive oil slick grows worse by the day, the White House is fighting off a growing perception that the federal response to this ecological disaster is President Obama's Katrina....

There are a lot of reasons this isn't going to be his Katrina -- people aren't dying, he's been to the site, and so on. But the biggest reason is  this:

As Gallup reported last year -- in fact, as Gallup has reported consistently since the mid-1960s -- Americans always think "big government" is more of a threat to the country than big business. In fact, since the Reagan "morning in America" moment of the early 1980s, at least  half the country has picked government as the greater villain -- except for a brief moment eight years ago, when 9/11 and the Afghan war made government look better and Enron made business look bad. And even then, government was seen as a significantly more menacing force.

Also see  this Gallup survey from a few months ago (again, click to enlarge):

We love capitalism -- and, at worst, we're ambivalent about "big business." (And that's in the midst of a horrible, seemingly interminable economic downturn caused by guys in suits.)

So, in response to Aimai, I'll say that the country probably wants Obama to be  somewhat angry with BP, but not  too angry -- we don't despise our fat cat overlords.

And that's essentially the same message I have for Fox: You and your fellow righties, since at least the days of Goldwater and Buckley, have been telling us that government is bad and big business is swell. Well, generally speaking, we tend to believe that. So it's going to be hard to persuade Americans to resent Obama for not attacking an enemy that  your side has been telling us for decades isn't an an enemy at all.

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