It's not just millions of gallons of black gold spilling into the Gulf of Mexico that are being lost. Also disappearing into watery despair are the last shreds of credibility for progressive Big Government.
It's Day 65 of the Deepwater Horizon spill and the only hope of stopping the flow of thick, gooey crude remains the relief well being drilled by the private sector.
None of the ass-kicking political speeches by President Obama, bureaucratic edicts by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar or EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, or hypocritical posturing for the cameras in Congress has plugged the hole to stop the flow of suffocating oil headed to the beaches.
We see this week a remarkable confluence of events signaling the eventual end of Big Government: The bureaucrats and politicians can spend trillions but they can't plug the Gulf oil spill, agree on a budget in Congress or end the Great Recession's foreclosures and unemployment.
We've been here before. In the 1950s and '60s, Detroit's Big Three automakers utterly dominated the market. Americans bought only Chevys, Fords and Plymouths because our cars and trucks were “the standard of the world.”
Detroit auto execs just laughed when Volkswagen Beetles trickled over here from Germany. Then, as Toyota and Honda began attracting serious attention from early adopting consumers, the Big Three confidently vowed to push the new invaders back to Japan.
It didn't happen. Instead, Detroit steadily lost the ability to produce quality products. By the 1970s, late-night comedians joked that every new Chrysler came with its very own union worker to reattach the chrome pieces as they fell off.
Imports couldn't be rolled back because General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were hamstrung by executive hubris and the endless demands of the United Auto Workers union for higher pay, more generous benefits and permanent job security. Give us the welfare state in microcosm or we will shut down the assembly lines, the union bosses shouted.
The execs caved, so American cars cost on average $2,000 more to build than those from Japan, and the union refused to give up the insanely complicated work rules that robbed management of needed flexibility to respond to a changing marketplace.
Predictably, when consumers compared Detroit's costlier offerings with cheaper, better-made Japanese products, they logically chose the latter. GM went from 60 percent market share to less than half that in the 1980s. Ford barely evaded bankruptcy and Chrysler survived only because Washington bailed it out.
Now it's Big Government that needs a bailout because its progressive politicians and bureaucrats can't stop doing what they've always done — spending more, taxing more, regulating more, grabbing more power for themselves and their special interest buddies.
The result is that by trying to do everything for everybody, Big Government steadily loses the capacity to do anything for anybody. Thus, the oil keeps spilling into the Gulf as the politicians speechify, the bureaucrats issue new orders and the congressmen posture.
This is why, as just as most Americans long ago stopped trusting Detroit to build the world's best cars, today we no longer believe the grand promises that more massive, wasteful government will bring prosperity and good health for our families, security in our old age and a better life for our kids. We see the Gulf.
So do the progressives. Worrisome hints abound of their response to their swelling crisis:
They wrote Obamacare behind closed doors in Congress, then rode roughshod over public opposition to make it the law of the land.
At the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Election Commission, they're reaching for tools to silence their critics in the media and on the campaign trail. And when a judge rules their Gulf drilling ban is unconstitutional, they give him the middle finger, too, with a vow to impose a new ban.
In short, they're doing what they always do — grabbing more power over the rest of us. And telling us it's for our own good.
UPDATED: New NBC/WSJ poll has jolt for Obama
AllahPundit at Hot Air says the oil spill calamity has finally begun to hurt President Obama's popularity and this development is reflected in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal survey. The survey finds 42 percent approve of Obama's handling of the spill, while 50 percent disapprove.
Overall, according to NBC/WSJ, Obama's approval ratings stand at 45 percent approving and 48 percent disapprove. There is much, much more in the data and AllahPundit suggests starting on page 19 of the crosstabs.
Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's Copy Desk blog on Mark Tapscott is editorial page editor of The Washington Examiner and proprietor of Tapscott's Copy Desk blog on washingtonexaminer.com.