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Obama’s Ground-Based Campaign

August 17, 2012

Abe Lincoln stayed home—even from the first Republican Convention, and let his surrogates traverse their regions of the country, campaigning for him. Both the Roosevelts—Teddy and FDR—spent a lot of time speaking off the back end of trains to crowds overflowing the local station platform. Even with the advent of television, candidates have spent an increasing amount of time getting in front of voters in key swing states. Meeting face-to-face is still the preferred choice for decision makers when the stakes are high. Some would say that the Election of 2012 is about as high as those stakes can get.

That means, of course, that politicians from both major parties will be descending on “battleground states” in their campaign planes more often than dusk. The evening news will be filled with shots of office-seekers disembarking from their private or chartered aircraft at general aviation and hub airports all over the landscape. Probably the most ubiquitous of all these incumbents and challengers will be the current leader of our nation, the Campaigner in Chief, Barack Obama. In his case, the campaign plane has a very distinctive paint job…and a set of rules that go with it, that dictate how it can and should be used and how the expense of employing it should be covered, since the costs associated with operating Air Force One are taxpayer funded.

The ultimate “business jet,” the Presidential plane not only transports the nation’s Chief Executive and his staff, it even accommodates a substantial contingent of media representatives, all of whom recognize it as one of the great perks of the Presidency. In his first weeks in office, President Obama looked for any excuse to use it, once even taking it to a speaking engagement in Virginia, about an hour’s drive from the Nation’s Capital. He moved aggressively to get out among the people affected by the challenging economy in order to reassure them. In Elkhart, Indiana, Detroit, Michigan, Fort Myers, Florida and Peoria, Illinois, he was there to shake their hands, pat them on the back and tell them that you understand what they’re going through. Then he got back on his private, publicly-funded jet and went back to Washington.

Conspicuous by its absence on the list of towns he chose to visit however, was the place where Air Force One was completed, the Air Capital of the World, Wichita, Kansas. That’s where more than 13,000 people who worked in the city’s airplane manufacturing plants at the time of his election are now looking for jobs. Butt, in light of comments he and members of his administration have made repeatedly throughout the past three+ years, it has become painfully obvious that the President thinks the use of a private aircraft is actually a bad thing. For instance, any company or organization who received TARP funding was expected to sell or hangar its corporate airplane and find some other way to travel among its various locations. Those with multiple locations in some of our country’s smaller towns were apparently expected to drive there, since airlines also began reducing the number of cities they served in order to save funds. Those who could, of course, utilized the airlines to get to the nearest big city airport and then rented cars to get to their sites, even though it often extended their travel time by hours—or days—to do so.

In Wichita, our air service allows us to fly to a number of cities nonstop, but they’re not all that close to the plants our local corporate executives need to visit. Fortunately, we CAN get to hub airports like DFW or ORD or DEN and the layover between flights isn’t usually more than a couple of hours. It’s conceivable that some of our local business types will actually be able to visit more than one location in a single day if they plan accordingly and don’t run into any challenges that require them to alter their schedules. In the past, when they could fly to an airport close to their outlying facilities, work on the airplane and discuss proprietary subjects without fear of being overheard, a change in plans, when necessary, didn’t actually disrupt their schedules or productivity too much, and they were actually able to visit multiple sites and still get home the same day. But that, of course, falls under the category of “fat cats riding around in their private jets” according to the President and Vice President, so that type of inequality must be eliminated! On the bright side, though, it’s bound to provide a stimulus to the hotel and motel business.

Meanwhile, the President and VP, the movie stars and high-dollar donors to their campaign who utilize their private airplanes while publicly bashing businessmen who fly in a company airplane, ignore the impact of their rhetoric on one of the nation’s most important international industries. They bad-mouth the thoughtless users of corporate aircraft, because they should, in their minds, be “spreading the wealth” rather than trying to make more of it to pour into development of their products and services.

Members of Congress and the Administration actually keep straight faces these days as they traverse their districts, states, or the entire country and burn incalculable quantities of air-fouling fossil fuels in their quests for votes. In the process, they also ignore some pretty important facts: It was they who caused the economy to crash in the first place by insisting that balloon loans be given to home buyers who really couldn’t afford what they were buying; it’s their refusal to develop our own oil reserves because they are in places where caribou roam that forces us to rely on foreign sources; and it is their policy to deny drilling rights anywhere near our shores to domestic energy companies while permitting foreign governments to drill, drill, drill that has more than doubled the price of a gallon of gas since Barack Obama was inaugurated!

Those who have no jobs find it hard to take solace in the fact that this President has appointed czars to oversee everything from banking to pollution who, while being compensated at obscenely high levels, are, for the most part, creating yet another layer of bureaucracy and regulation. It’s especially galling to someone who was laid off from a job building productivity tools like airplanes when they hear their former employers and customers criticized and vilified by multimillionaires who have little or no experience in the private sector and don’t produce any products or provide any recognizable service!

It’s also discouraging to have some government flak explain that $250,000 a year makes the earner “rich” (and therefore evil) and $500,000 per year is obscenely rich and should be taxed heavily. Those who were actually striving to make sums like that to cover their adjustable rate mortgages (with the impossible balloon payments looming) will, in the hopes of the Obama Administration, repent from their egregious self-centered motivation and just default on their loans so that the Administration can bail them out. Vice President Biden, himself a relatively poor man by today’s politicians’ standards, says it’s our patriotic duty to share the wealth, and that, if we do, we will find hope we can believe in and, working together, we can change our difficult circumstances. ( He usually pauses at this point in his speeches to wait for the expected response: “Yes, we can!”)

Some other members of the Obama administration, such as Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner, have done their best to set an example for the rest of us by giving up some of their rights, too, such as paying taxes, while helping to craft and present a stimulus package that is defined in a way that virtually anyone should be able to easily understand and support—provided that someone is a PhD in Economics who believes Entitlements are the key to job stimulation!

The positive balance of trade airplane makers in Wichita have enjoyed for many years apparently isn’t nearly as important to this Administration, in the long run, as implementing a formula for health care that purports to cut costs by prioritizing who gets treatment based on their likelihood and longevity of survival. According to Obamacare supporters, a positive trade balance won’t help us return to prosperity nearly as quickly as implementing what the Supreme Court identified as another overwhelming tax program and creating coverage that will weed out large numbers of doctors who will be forced to give up their practice because the government-mandated limits on compensation for services rendered won’t even cover the costs incurred to deliver the care!

Building new bridges and restoring wetlands were originally identified as projects that would provide thousands with much-needed employment, but they turned out, in the President’s words, “not to be as shovel-ready as we thought,” and didn’t stimulate the economy after all. That has certainly been the case in Kansas, so we hope the President will come to Wichita and see how his poll-driven rhetoric has affected real workers. Maybe, during the course of the campaign, he’ll climb onto his big, black, Canadian-built bus and lead a motorcade to the Midwest. He would, no doubt, choose the bus, Ground Hog One, over Air Force One since flying in his ultimate business airplane would obviously be an example of selfish excess.

Maybe such a trip would be preferable, after all. It would actually give him a chance to use the roads, the infrastructure and all the other things that government provides. Those are, according to him, the reasons that independent entrepreneurs have been able to succeed. In a recent speech he told business owners they didn’t build their companies alone. Entrepreneurship, creativity and the investment of untold hours of individual effort and personal investment aren’t what results in success or builds small businesses into larger ones with lots of employees and potential, according to the Discourager in Chief. The real key to success, according to him, is government infrastructure and oversight. Any suggestion that the business founders and operators, themselves, were the key to success, just won’t fly—much like the businessmen in their corporate aircraft—if this Administration has anything to say about it!