Just got back from visiting some airport members and in-laws. Also saw two dead presidents.
I got a lot of questions about FAA Reauthorization and about what it means for all of us if we can’t get the FAA authorized after four years of trying. No one out there understands this is the basic business of government and if Washington can’t authorize the FAA, what can it do?
I thought of that when I visited Zachary Taylor and Warren Harding. Both men never heard of the FAA (good for them) and only Harding had ever heard of an airplane. Taylor had a country falling apart over slavery and other divisions (much tougher stuff than an artificial debt ceiling). He died after 16 months in office. My friend, the presidential historian Al Felzenberg tells me Taylor is underrated, as does Taylor’s biographer John Eisenhower. I think he would have found a way to keep the FAA running.
Warren Harding (his is the 30th presidential grave site I’ve visited) has little to recommend him (a friendly biography written by fellow Marion, OH native John Dean tries to be favorable but seems forced). One of the things he did accomplish, though, was the creation of the Bureau of the Budget, the predecessor of OMB. I don’t think they had these problems back then (in fact Harding’s whole cabinet was confirmed by the Senate on his first day in office).
I only have 8 more grave sites to visit. None of them ever heard of the FAA, or of a debt ceiling, for that matter. Some were good presidents (FDR, TR) and some were not (Fillmore, Pierce, Andrew Johnson). They all serve as a reminder that it doesn’t matter much what great speech you might give as a politician, because in the long run, as Keynes said, “we are all dead.”
What matters is getting on with it!