Who do dames crush on?
People who know how to talk and get things done, like for instance Elizabeth Warren or Ken Feinberg. Robert Bea's a UC Berkeley professor who has emerged as one of the "I-told-you-so" grizzled voices of reason in the BP oil slog...because he really did tell the company so.
At a youthful 73 with a white mustache, he sort of looks like that other hero-of-our-time, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (who incidentally lives just a hop, skip, and a couple freeways away from the Berkeley campus).
A flurry of scientific teams are out there trying to assess the damage, and he heads one. But he has some special cred on BP's epic fail, aside from conducting hundreds of engineering investigations and receiving plenty of honors. Eight years ago, the company hired the former Shell Oil executive to asses their refineries. He gave a report, pointing to management problems and inconsistent workplace cultures rather than anything technical. A few years later, one of the refineries he studied had an explosion that left 15 dead.
Bea has been on "60 Minutes" and other outlets to speak clearly about who's to blame, what to do, and how to approach this. And lucky for all of us, he's an advisor to the newly formed National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and OffShore Drilling, which meets for the first time in New Orleans July 12-13.
What's best is that his basic philosophy on how to prevent mistakes is really pretty simple, probably from years of trying to explain it to students. "Stop. Think. Don't do something stupid." Apparently, that's harder than it looks.