Commentary Magazine


To Seem, Rather Than To Be

Well, someone in the Obama White House had a nifty idea: wouldn’t Air Force One (well, technically, one of the planes that serves as Air Force One; that name is reserved for the specific aircraft that is carrying the president at the moment) flying around and over New York City, near landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, be a sensational bit of imagery? Wouldn’t video of such flyovers be pure visual splendor?

So yesterday, one of the specially-equipped Boeing 747s bearing the presidential livery buzzed New York City, with a close fighter escort. And I’m certain there was some spectacular video.

I’m also equally certain that such footage will never see the light of day, because nobody involved in this stroke of genius thought that New Yorkers might be just a smidgen freaked out by the sight of a jumbo jet flying fast and low over the city, with a fighter seemingly in hot pursuit. After all, 9/11 was almost eight years ago, wasn’t it?

New Yorkers, from the mayor on down, are livid — and justifiably so. Certain officials were notified about the stunt, but they were told to keep it secret. So people like the mayor and the general public had no idea what was going on when the jumbo jet roared overhead, low enough to rattle windows, with the F-16 right on its tail.

People, understandably, did not react favorably:


By Friday, some low- to mid-level White House drone (probably a holdover from the Bush administration, if they can find one) will be blamed. President Obama will “accept full responsibility,” a phrase which has come to mean absolutely nothing in respect to this administration.

And in a week or two, they’ll do something else even more thoughtless and tone-deaf.

To the conspiracy-minded, it could all be deliberate — an endless series of dumb stunts and public flubs and embarrassing incidents serving as bright, shiny diversions from the real work of the Obama administration. While we all point and laugh (or point and howl) at these moves, they quietly go forward with their agenda — bringing the banks under direct federal control, bringing the auto industry under direct federal control, “reforming” healthcare insurance to bring that under direct federal control, going after the credit card companies…

There’s an old saying that one should never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence or stupidity. The Obama administration is starting to stretch the limits of that aphorism.

But gosh darn it, wouldn’t that video of Air Force One flying by the Statue of Liberty have been awesome?