If we want to avoid putting this spill fix and clean up on the public dime as John Beohner suggested (and has already walked back) we have to recognize some practical realities.
The US Military does not possess a Fleet of Oil Tankers or Fishing/Skimming Vessels. The Ships needed to clean the oil from the water have to come from private companies. Either BP is going to pay for it and hire those ships as sub-contractors, or the government will. The problem is if the government takes this over, exactly how long will it take to get the funds appropriated with people like Jim Bunning in the Senate running around saying - "But it has to be PAID FOR"?
Tax payers are not footing the bill for this. Not. Gonna. Happen. Unfortunately if BP is passing out the checks, then BP Calls the Shots! It's a total Catch-22.
It may make Obama "look weak", but really the reality is that International Corporations have become This strong. We saw it during the Housing Crisis and Bank Bailouts and we're seeing it now. These people are modern day King's, with their own private armies of thugs and serfs to do their bidding. Governments are just an inconvenience to them, which they can simply buy off in time.
I think what needs to happen is that we need to allow the EPA and OSHA to contract out the cleanup and skimming crews and then directly BILL BP for the costs. Don't let BP decide how things should be cleaned up, where, or what protective gear should be used since - they're LIABLE for it all, and it's in their corporate interest, and their share-holders interests to minimize and limit their liability as much as possible.
Right now a mechanism to actually TAKE THIS AWAY FROM BP and "Commandeer their ships" as Michele Bachmann insanely suggested - doesn't really exist without declaring Martial Law and seizing the assets of BP and all the other ships involved - we'd have to have the Coast Guard and Navy become PIRATES in international waters. And after that the really bad stuff happens, we'd have to start placing the workers into Forced Labor without compensation. Nobody wants to see anything like that happen.
This isn't Obama's problem to fix, not all by himself. He doesn't have that kind of authority over private companies, but Congress could create it with some amendments to the Clean Water Act to allow this kind of Ad Hoc Clean-Up Crew Contracting and Billing to ensure BP stays on the hook, but not in the driver's seat.