Fox News (apparently the only outlet dispensing news these days) had a piece on two Viet Nam War casualties finally brought home and buried at Arlington 40 years after being killed in Laos. The story was both tragic and uplifting as the two crew members- buried in the wreckage together for more than four decades- were laid to rest side-by-side in our nation's most famous military cemetery. The ceremony brought some closure for the airmen's families but there was one particularly discordant note to the ceremony: the flyover honoring the crew almost didn't happen. You might be wondering why.
The answer is the sequester. The Air Force said the flyover could not be done due to due to "limited flying hours and budget constraints”. Fortunately several volunteers came forward to do the flyover at their own expense and the two airmen received the posthumous honor they so richly deserved. The story got me thinking about how sequestration has affected government and how the sequester has been covered (or not covered) in the media.
The first issue that needs clarification is the erroneous notion that sequester meant draconian cuts to the Federal Budget. The fact is there were NO CUTS! That's right, there were no cuts in the amount of money the Federal Government was going to spend. The only "cut" was a reduction in the INCREASE of spending scheduled for the future. Please understand that the United States regularly builds automatic increases into the budget which goes a long way to explaining the current financial crisis this country is facing. Sequestration only reduces the rate of increase in spending.
The issue was spun in the mainstream media as a train-wreck that would DESTROY THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE! The one person most responsible for getting the media into "Chicken Little" mode was our Screamer-in-Chief, President Obama. Children will starve, people will die in the streets, etc. OK so maybe death wasn't predicted except by a few real crazies, but dire predictions of mass suffering resulting from the sequester were widely circulated before it actually took effect. Then the dreaded day came and....
White House tours were cancelled. Amazingly after all the "sky is falling" wailing from the White House and the media, the first "cut" was to keep school kids on Spring Break from seeing where the King... oops, sorry, the President lives. When a Fox News analyst offered to foot the bill for the tours the President apparently couldn't find his number.
Hot meals were canceled for Marines in Afghanistan and cutbacks affected medical care for wounded veterans. Meanwhile, back in DC, the President was affected by.... well, let's see, um... ahhhh- Oh Yes! He couldn't see all those kids who would have toured his home. He still had concerts in the White House, still took multi-million dollar trips and vacations and oh by the way, flew their dog up separately (didn't want him pooping in front of the royal family?) for the summer vacation in New England.
I've yet to see any report of the President suffering any inconvenience due to the sequester. I can remember when the press couldn't wait to hammer the Bushes (both 41 and 43) for being out of touch with the folks. Outside of some of us "right-wing" whackos I've yet to see any criticism of this President being out of touch. And now we have two Viet Nam casualties unable to get government jets to honor them with a flyover and once again we hear nothing about it except on Fox News.
I see a parallel between this First Couple and another famous couple in history. And while Mrs. Obama would never say, "Let them eat cake" (maybe "let them eat salad"), the attitude that they can do whatever they want may eventually bring them down in the eyes of historians. This group that calls themselves journalists will never regain the trust of most of "flyover country" which can see this Administration for what it really is- incompetent and devoid of any real vision for the country.