Is There A Story Here?

I wrote here about yesterday’s bizarre fly-by of the Statue of Liberty and other New York landmarks by the federal government. I chalked it up to bureaucratic stupidity, and that’s probably all there is to the story.

Still, it’s hard not to wonder. News reports say that the point of the fly-by was to “update” the White House’s photo of Air Force One flying past the Statue of Liberty. This seems odd: what is there to “update”? The statue hasn’t changed, nor has the airplane, to my knowledge.

It has also come out that the FAA was aware of “the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes” in New York. No surprise there, I guess. Yet they also insisted on secrecy, and even threatened local authorities with “federal sanctions” if the public learned of the impending fly-by. What sense does that make? Could they have been concerned that someone might have tried to shoot down the airplane? Perhaps, but doesn’t that demonstrate the stupidity of “updating” the photo?

Further, it’s now been reported that the flyover cost $329,000.

So, add it all up: the Obama administration spent over $300,000 to “update” a PR photo that could hardly have needed “updating.” To do this, they knew they would likely sow panic in New York City, yet they nevertheless threatened city officials to force them to keep the fly-by secret from the public. On its face, this makes no sense. One question that some have asked is who was aboard the aircraft; perhaps this fiasco was staged for, say, a group of left-wing Hollywood contributors. Robert Gibbs said today, however, that only Air Force personnel were aboard. You can take that for what it’s worth.

So at this point it us unclear whether there is a story, other than the basic stupidity of the operation, or not. But let’s assume there isn’t. Assume, as I originally thought, that this fiasco illustrates the kind of arrogant and clueless decision-making that a government bureaucracy inevitably produces (not, of course, all the time). One might wonder, then, whether it is a good idea to turn our energy system, our health care, our children’s education, and our banks and auto companies over to institutions–here, the Obama White House–that can’t be relied on to make sane decisions.


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