The more I think about what the Obama administration did yesterday to create a photo op by flying a Air Force One jet low over skyscrapers of New York City, being followed by a military jet, the more angry I become.
I don't usually blog political thoughts here but for my family, 9/11 is a personal matter with strong emotions attached to it. My husband was one of many working fathers in Manhattan on that infamous day and the day was filled with confusion and fear for us. Luckily my husband blew off the class he was to take in the World Trade Center that day so he was spared being a close-up witness to the event. Sadly some men my husband knew suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to what they saw and felt as they exited the WTC building and ran for their lives, seeing also some choosing to jump out of the windows and fall to their deaths. It was still harrowing for me and my children when my husband was trapped in the City when the officials closed the routes of transportation, making it impossible for him to come home to us. The land line phones were out and the mobile phones were going in and out and we did not even have reliable telephone communications (or Internet communication either).
There are too many problems with this situation! I can't beleive the number of issues surrounding this escapade.
First, the blunder of not notifying the Mayor of New York City or any other officials that this low fly-over would occur was a stupid error. It was really, really dumb and actually dangerous to not notify officials in the city that this would be happening. To simulate a terrorist attack like 9/11 and to not have the police and fire deparments know that it was a simulation not a real emergency is unthinkable. Who was involved with that process and where did their logical thinking and critical thinking skills break down?
Second, to people of New York City and nearby New Jersey, those who work there and to those who live there, to stage such an event is a terrible thing to do. It brought back memories and fear about an event that happened JUST eight years ago. To those who lost loved ones or those who were in the City on 9/11, low flying jet airplanes are NO JOKE. It is not entertaining and it is not anything that should be in a publicity photo op. It is not 'cool looking' or impressive to have images of the plane used as Air Force One flying low among Manhattan skyscrapers. It is SICK, really SICK.
It was a cruel thing to do, to fly that plane overhead, with a military plane following it no less, something very odd that indicates to witnesses that perhaps the large plane as hijacked and that possibly this was another terrorist act. My heart goes out to the panicked workers who were evacuated from their buildings mid-day.
It seems to me that the White House and the Obama administration are completely out of touch regarding the serious nature of 9/11 and how deep and raw the situation still is for New York City workers and residents. While it is true that Americans seem to move on to the next thing quickly, for people in New York City and some others around the country who were affected, 9/11 has NOT been forgotten. The emotions that some people claimed Barack Obama possesses, the positive and 'feel good' emotions that he and his administration claim to possess, clearly were ABSENT when he and his administration made the decision to pull that stunt.
I still can't imagine what good or cool photographic image the White House was seeking when they planned this photo op. Why did someone think that image would be good or cool or impressive? That image is downright creepy to many Americans!
I'm starting to feel that President Obama is more interested in his personal publicity machine than taking the office of the Presidency seriously and doing what is right and best for American citizens. What kind of person does an uncaring and scary thing like simulate another 9/11 terrorist attack in the city that suffered the most on that horrible day?
Update 8:53pm: News reports now state President Obama didn't know about this until after it happened and Louis Caldera is taking the rap for this. Source: this article on Bloomberg.com
The next issue, a less important one to me, concerns the environment and government spending. Today FoxNews reported that the jet used for Air Force One that flew over NYC yesterday costs $70,000 per HOUR to operate. That is a complete waste of taxpayer's money to have used multiple hours of flight time in these times of recession when our President is talking about how government can help the economy--he wastes money on a publicity stunt instead. Secondly, for all the pro-environmental talk and talk of 'green living', that jet used a lot of fuel and carbon and created air pollution for this stunt. The better thing to do for our environment would have been to use Photoshop to create the image using digital photographs (a suggestion made by a reporter on FoxNews today).
Update 8:53pm: the latest report from Washington puts the cost of this stunt at over $300,000, see here.
The latest reports speculate that White House officials, Obama's staff may have been on the jet for a fun trip, a cool job perk or reward of sorts. "Today I'm being rewarded with being on a big jet plane to simulate a 9/11 hijacking in Manhattan! My boss is so great!" Are you kidding me? Some are calling for the manifest to be released so we can see who was behind this and who was on the joyride. I for one want to know who was on the flight.
I am just miffed that President Obama was so insensitive and I can't imagine what he was thinking. Perhaps the issue is he is trying to do too many things in his first 100 days, so he can't think clearly? I wish President Obama would FOCUS on the most important things and to me that doesn't include self-promotion. If President Obama would focus on doing the right things then good publicity and praise as well as trust and admiration will naturally follow; there is no need for staged photo ops let alone one of the type that scared the New Yorkers yesterday.
An apology is not good enough, I think one or more people should lose their job over this. I say that not just for punishment reasons but if a person lacked judgement on this issue then perhaps they are not qualified to continue in their role?
Character is important, the character of our President and of his appointees and all government officials and workers and of our military staff too.
For Further Reading
Our Family's Experience on 9/11 (published in September 2006)
Low-flying planes near Statue of Liberty scared N.J., N.Y. workers at NJ.com 4/27/09
Air Force One Photo-Op Scares the Crap Out of Manhattan at Newsweek.com 4/27/09
Obama's low-flying 747 jet causes panic on Manhattan streets at The Scotsman 4/28/09
White House Official Apologizes for Air Force One Photo Op in New York City at FoxNews.com 4/27/09