Monday, September 24, 2012


James Fallows thinks it's wrong that people are snarking off about Mitt Romney's plane gaffe. You know about the gaffe, right?
Ann Romney's plane was grounded Friday after the main cabin filled with smoke. The small electrical fire caused no injuries, but apparently did cause the Presidential candidate to forget the dangers of altitude.

"When you have a fire in an aircraft, there's no place to go, exactly," he told the LA Times. "And you can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don't open. I don't know why they don’t do that. It's a real problem."

Air crafts do not open windows because the cabins are pressurized to fly safely at an altitude of tens of thousand feet. Opening a window in an airplane would seriously sicken the passengers and crew.
Fallows thinks it's hard not to make gaffes when there's constantly a microphone under your nose. OK, fine. Fallows thinks we should cut Romney a break because the dangerous situation his wife was involved in shook him up. Yes, fine. Fallows says extemporaneous speaking isn't Romney's strong suit. Yes, yes, yes.

But this passage from Fallows annoys me:
I have an irrational fear and dislike of horses -- even though many members of my family were avid riders....

Here's why I mention this. I have heard over the years, within the flying world, that Mitt Romney views airplanes more or less the way I view horses. He is (I have heard) not a happy or comfortable flyer, and one who can always imagine things going wrong. Fortunately I don't actually have to ride horses -- but he has no choice but to fly, white-knuckled, from one stop to the next. Someone with this outlook would naturally be all the more rattled by an emergency landing. So cut him all the more slack.
No, James -- it's not true that Romney "has no choice but to fly." He chose to run for president -- in fact, he chose to spend the last six years of his life running for president. I didn't ask him to. You didn't ask him to. He could be spending his days playing with his grandkids and lubing his car elevator. But no -- he chose this particular endeavor, which requires him to fly day after day after day. If being president is what he wants, then he should just suck it up and never utter a peep about how uncomfortable flying makes him, because nobody put a gun to his head and compelled him to do all this flying. It was his choice.


Victor said...

First, Mitt was felt that he was "called" to run for President. I think he personally accepted that collect call from Moroni.

Second, so, Mitt wants vent windows on airplane, ok...
At least he's not calling for submarines with screen doors.

Rand Careaga said...

I once spent a few minutes on the flight deck (or would it have been called the "cockpit" when the aircraft was new?) seated behind the pilot of a DC-3* as the plane circled a couple of thousand feet over San Francisco. To my delight, you could open the window and stick your elbow out. The Romneys should purchase a couple of reconditioned gooney birds for their barnstorming jaunts. I'm sure the candidate could find a way to write them off.

*actually a C-47 converted back to the design's original civil configuration.

BH said...

I'll cut Mitty some slack on this, or anything else, just as soon as pigs fly without external assistance (pr pressurized pens). Anyone who expects martyr status because of a course of action s/he freely chose has forfeited expectations of slack.

Kathy said...

I'm going to be a bit contrary on this one. As someone with two major phobias (falling and needles), I actually appreciate someone who is willing to face his every day.

I was told once that I should desensitize myself by doing the things I fear over and over. Okay, I started riding carefully selected roller coasters with the kids, but I still can't guarantee I won't hyperventilate.

Over the past few years, I've been stuck many, many times for various medical tests and treatment. There are times I can psych myself up to take it calmly, but there are others when I lose it entirely.

Phobias may lessen with experience, but they can still jump up and bite people. Yes, Romney chose to campaign, and he knew that required flying. If he really does have a phobia, facing it every day is courageous and exhausting.

None of this means that the guy isn't an out of touch aristocrat who has no business being president.

andre said...

He also chooses to take a jet from stop-to-stop on his bus tours and meet the bus at its location, instead of actually riding the bus. So no, he isn't forced to fly on airplanes. He makes extra-double-sure to fly on airplanes when the thing he's doing is specifically CALLED "not flying on airplanes."