For all I know Tony Hayward might be an evil man and an awful CEO, but I don't think so. From what I've seen of him, he's a rational man with very few political skills. Hayward was selected to run a company too big and too politically connected for it's own good. Corporations like BP necessarily have to operate counter to free market prinicples -- the name of the game at the highest level, higher than CEO, is political connections. This game of Big Business and Big Government has almost destroyed capitalism.
Hayward was certainly destroyed by the rig explosion and the subsequent oil gusher. Hardly any CEO could survive with such a perfect scapegoat set-up. Whether Hayward was complicit in safety shortcuts or not, his career started unraveling when the rig exploded. This is not to show sympathy for Hayward while ignoring the deaths and the damage, but this is how such a defense of Hayward would be spun.
In the hearings what I saw was a man trying to rationally answer the loaded questions, resisting the panel's attempt to reduce him to blubbering mess of repentance. Hayward doesn't know what caused the explosion -- no one knows -- that's why the qustion was being asked. That's all Hayward could honestly say -- "I don't know until the investigation is concluded." He can't know until everyone knows. If Hayward knew, the government would know, or they should know. The government has investigators, too, and they will find the cause eventually.
I don't believe Hayward has some secret informaton that he's withholding from congress and the public. It would put him at legal risk at this point, and given the taste for blood in the congress, they would hang him at dawn. Hayward didn't play the political game and he's being punished. The problem is with the enthusiasm with which Hayward is being destroyed -- this is not good for our nation. Destroying Hayward will not stop the leak or restore the gulf. We all need to take a deep breath.
I hope all budding CEOs look at this example as a lesson in modern business -- don't think that big and politically connected is the dream come true -- it'll likely be a nightmare of lost principles and compromised integrity -- unless you become the type of pandering patsy who could survive a Senate hearing, and I don't wish that for anyone.