Could anyone have imagined that airplanes and incompetence would have dominated the news this week? President Obama orders American fighter jets to attack Libya. Sen. Claire McCaskill admits to nearly $300,000 in unpaid taxes on her private plane. And the Federal Aviation Administration has suspended the air traffic controller who fell asleep at Reagan National because the tower went silent as two planes were forced to land on their own. The famous joke from the movie Airplane comes to mind: “Surely you can't be serious." "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."
There is a feeling in the ether that America is flying blind. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the strategy for our assault on Libya was put together “on the fly.” It seems like Obama was pressured down this path of action, instead of providing focused, decisive leadership to make a well-thought-out decision. At the same time, he flies Air Force One on a strangely timed goodwill tour of Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador that we could coin “Operation Odd Dawn” when American fighter pilots are risking their lives on Operation Odyssey Dawn, a mission without definition. All this is happening while Japan, the world's third largest economy, is facing the biggest international, humanitarian, and financial crisis since World War II. [See photos from Libya.]
Let’s not forget that slowly approaching its destination is the looming federal budget shutdown. No real negotiations have taken place since Congress adjourned, and both parties are complaining that the president is asleep like the air traffic controller at the Reagan National Airport control tower. Meanwhile, Republican and Democratic sides are struggling for guidance and may or may not figure it out before it’s too late. [Check our a roundup of political cartoons on President Obama.]
America requires a strategic flight plan that will provide a real sense of economic and national security. It didn’t get one from the president’s State of the Union. It didn’t get one from the administration’s budget proposal. And it didn’t get one regarding the crisis in Libya. Wasn’t it strange that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was chosen to announce that NATO was assuming command? It seemed very presidential. The commander-in-chief is desperately needed to be at the controls and operating an effective government. President Obama doesn’t understand that perception is reality. He must be that strong pilot who will calmly reassure passengers as America is flying through severe turbulence. That’s why President Bush and his administration received the blame for aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, because there was a feeling he was not in control. The crises and strange events unfolding before us on a global scale are giving many of us that same feeling of helplessness. [See editorial cartoons about the federal budget and deficit.]
“I have convinced my husband to sell the damn plane,” McCaskill told reporters on a conference call Monday afternoon. “I will not be setting foot on the plane ever again.” If President Obama doesn’t step up and show real leadership soon, Americans may want to do the same thing in the voting booth come November of 2012.