The “miracle on the Hudson” (to which some are already objecting, saying it wasn’t a miracle, it was just pilots and flight attendants doing correctly what they were trained to do) is a nice metaphor, or even parable or fable or fairy tale—except it’s true—for these times.
With competent people in charge, an enormous and unbelievably heavy hunk of metal and machinery, with absolutely no power, was gently guided over the George Washington bridge (how compounded the possible disaster would have been had the plane hit it!—close enough that you would have felt a breeze from its passing had you been standing outside your car on the top of it) and put down in the Hudson River with no deaths and only a couple of minor cuts and scratches [and of course thanks to all the river boat captains and their crews and the divers and others who were so quick to the rescue as well].
If the Bush Junior administration had been running that airlines, the pilots would have been friends or cronies or friends of cronies, most likely with no experience in air travel (“Brownie” and Katrina anyone?) and would have hit and demolished the bridge with everyone on it, and in the plane, losing their lives, and the spin meisters would have called it a brave deed and given out medals to the dead “pilots” and others and the insurance companies would have made sure that none of the victims families got any payments but the CEOs of the insurance company and the airlines would have gotten gi-normous bonuses for keeping their jobs despite the catastrophe, etc.
Okay, a little stretched, but you get the idea.
There’s something enormously hopeful about this “miracle” occurring only days before someone who seems a lot more intelligent and competent taking over command of the “airplane” we’re all traveling in. The traits the captain of the plane had that helped him do his job correctly and smoothly included calmness in the face of catastrophe and quick thinking, making him able to change course (they were going to try and make a small airport here in Jersey but realized they couldn’t and he figured the river was the safest bet, again, correctly) in time.
These are traits Obama has shown again and again. And if his critics raise the false argument that Obama doesn’t have experience, he’s been training for a lifetime, as I’ve written before, at negotiating between different cultures and worlds and world views as a kid of mixed race parentage who lived in places where he was always a minority, an outsider, and yet he was able to pull different strands of these cultures and places together in ways that not only made his fellows comfortable with him in their world and/or culture, but made him a leader among them.
And as a community organizer he has the experience of helping to empower people so that they can get things done on their own, and of using the experience of others (his co-pilot Biden et. al.) to actually accomplish things that despite their experience they couldn’t.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t help seeing the successful landing and rescue of the people on that plane as a metaphor for what we all (I’m assuming) hope will be a successful landing of this broken economy and the rescue of those of us caught in it, shaken up by the crash but able to continue our journeys and get on with our lives knowing there are competent people in charge.
I know I know, only time will tell, and already the media is giving more time to conservative Republican Senators and Representatives who object to passage of the first thing Obama’s administration has asked for (the rest of the TARP money) than they ever gave to liberal Democrats who objected to so much that Junior did that truly did end in catastrophe.
But we all know that’s going to happen. The right accuses the media of being in love with Obama and his family, but what they’re seeing is the media in love with the idea of an attractive African-American family in the white house and a cool, in-shape, handsome, hip man as president.
But the media is not and will not cut Obama any slack in terms of governing, that’s already obvious, nor will they be fair in their coverage of any opposition he gets, no matter how little. These conservative Republicans objecting to releasing the rest of the TARP funds are even in the minority in their party and yet they got more time on the news I listened to this morning (and that was NPR!) than any leftwing member of Congress or the Senate ever got during the past eight years (how many times did you hear Dennis Kucinitch on the news while Bush was president, and for how long?).
Still, the “miracle on the Hudson” is a beautiful thing to savor, not just for itself and those poor frightened people on the plane, but for the way it worked out for everyone involved (“women and children first” etc.,) showing the kind of excellence this country used to be known for, and may well be again after Tuesday.