James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist

  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Plane truths about power

Posted by James McPherson on February 15, 2009

One of the best perks of being president is that you get your own plane, and no one criticizes you for flying in Air Force One even after if you don’t do your job very well. Barack Obama may own a hybrid, but he won’t hitting the road in it for at least the next four years–another presidential perk is the cool ground transportation.

For the rest of us, flying has become more and more of an ideal. Sure, Southwest Airlines may have chipper flight attendents, and airlines may be producing custom-painted planes designed to appeal to sports fans–including the latest from Southwest, featuring Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Bar Rafaeli, a plane (pictured below) which seems designed to insult both conservatives and feminists while demonstrating yet again what constitutes “power” for American women.

Regardless of what’s on the outside of the plane, the fact remains that passengers inside are still treated like cattle as they put their faith in unknown pilots and the elements every time they take to the air. Still, admittedly, flying is safer than driving (and when gas was up to four bucks a gallon, it was also cheaper).

Trains are safer yet; maybe that’s why Obama took one to his Inauguration. I think one of the best things about the stimulus bill that he will sign tomorrow is the funds it devotes to mass transit. But having traveled across most of the country by train last summer, I hope Amtrak uses some of its funds to hire a few chipper Southwest employees.


7 Responses to “Plane truths about power”

  1. 6ftRabbit said

    Yes, it’s a great airplane. No, it is not Obama’s airplane. It belongs to the people of the USA. He just gets to smell it up for a while, until we can figure out how to get rid of his ass.

  2. Joe Fattal said

    I am glad President Obama enjoy his ride. Someone needs to remind him that his ride is for free. It just doesn’t put me at ease that his ride is paid with my taxes and I didn’t voted for him.

  3. Luis Lopez said


    Let me guess: you didn’t vote for Obama. That’s perfectly fine, but there’s no need to be so profane about him using Air Force One. Every president, for the past half-century, regardless of party, has had the honor and the privilege to use that plane. Look, I was no fan of George W. Bush, but I did not feel compelled to “get rid of his ass” or say that he is smelling up Air Force One merely because of his presence. If you are going to criticize Obama, at least try to do it in a cogent manner, rather than doing it in a way that is caustic and downright mean.

    Joe Fattal-

    What do you mean it doesn’t put you at ease that his ride is paid with your taxes? If John McCain had won, or any other candidate who ran in 2008 had won, what would you say then? I have no idea of your party affiliation, but I find it unfortunate that you feel uneasy just because he is riding Air Force One with a little help from U.S. taxpayers and the fact you did not vote for him.

  4. Randall said

    Does President Obama “Get It?”

    Congress chastised and make mockery of the automotive executives for flying to Washington in their corporate jets that cost $2,000 per hour.

    Our economy is in a death spiral. The global climate is at a tipping point. Food Banks are turning away people due to lack of funds. We’re losing 20,000 jobs per day. Two thousand homes are being foreclosed per day. Americans are fearful, disappointed, and have less faith in government.

    I applaude President Obama’s hard work. He deserves a break. He’s been on the job for about a month. I would think that any employer would reward a new employee with a four day, all expense, paid vacation. Especially since his last two week vacation in Hawaii was less than 60 days prior.

    His desire to see some friends, play a little basketball, and take his wife out to dinner will probably cost the government close to million dollars, if not more.

    Should non-government, domestic travel be on the world’s largest private jet? It consumes 22,000 lbs. of fuel per hour and has a direct operating cost of $30,000 per hour while dumping tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

    Air Force One 747 does not fly alone. Three C5A super-giant cargo planes ferry the president’s limo, helicopters and other assorted vehicles when the President takes a trip. The C5 Galaxy is the largest cargo plane in the world. It has a payload of 260,000 pounds. It is the most fuel consuming aircraft in the world and the most polluting.

    Yes, Mr. President, Air Force One is “Spiffy”, but is it possible that you could choose a less expensive mode of transportation for your weekend jaunts? Maybe you can ship your vehicles by truck or rail instead of on Air Force planes. Maybe you could reserve the 747 for international flights and make due with a 727 or A320 for domestic flights. Or maybe, even better, think twice about taking non-essential trips.

    Your trip could have kept ? homes out of foreclosure. How many of the newly homeless families could you have provided food and shelter for? How many college educations would your trip have financed? How many jobs could have been created?

    Are you “Getting it”? Mr. President.

  5. u2canfail said

    Fact: Obama won, he is President, yup it includes the plane, the house and the car, and a helicopter and guards, and cooks, President . It always makes me happy to read such nonsense. You see, when Rush says he needs to fail, and Coulter screeches on, McCain stomps his feet, it is fun. Bullies are fun to watch. Don’t go out on the playground, just watch. Usually they are “little Hitlers” who did not get their way. Just stand back and let them spit fire, it means no new votes in the next election. And it makes the Christian Right look so Christian. It is really fun. You do know “W” took a few vacations, so what were they saying? Didn’t he fly over the Katrina area on his way back to DC? Was he warm and dry? And we do know the whole economic meltdown happened on who’s watch? Are you getting it? Oh, mere facts. But enough about facts. Blame the poor.

  6. Mike Ingram said

    Yep Jim, you are right. This one would make fems and cons sing a similar song. SW Airlines has made a mistake on painting this plane.

  7. […] here and here. Examples relevant to gender here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and […]

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