It may have taken a day or so longer than some would have liked, but President Trump did the right thing by ordering the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ground Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. He was elected to reject the status quo and make government do things that looked out for the welfare of average citizens, and that’s exactly what he did.
By definition the U.S. presidency is a perpetual opportunity – some would argue, an obligation – for bold, courageous leadership. It has been said that by the time an issue reaches the president, it is safe to assume it is one only he or she can solve, and one which requires extraordinary wisdom, vision, and integrity.
Truth be told, that is not always the case. During my eight years on the Reagan White House staff, I discovered that much of what a president does and decides on is fairly routine in terms of running the federal government. Impact on the daily life of American citizens is minimal.
There are, however, matters that rise to the level of being critical – ones which impact history, affect the lives of many, and define a presidency.
Such is the case of the 737 MAX airplanes, two of which have crashed without explanation, killing hundreds. In overruling the inexplicably slow-footed and cluelessly bureaucratic FAA, Trump put the well-being of the people first.
After what happened in Indonesia and Ethiopia, one should presume those aircraft are unsafe and have no business flying. Assuming otherwise risks death. Only after a thorough investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which definitively determines the cause(s) of the crashes, and corrective steps are taken to make the planes safe should they be allowed back in the air.
Look at it this way: If two patients came to an emergency room with the same potentially fatal symptoms, a doctor would likely want to know what they had in common. If it turned out they had both eaten at the same restaurant, the health department would be notified and likely shut down the restaurant until the cause of their illness(es) could be determined.
Our legal system is based on the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but that standard should not be applied to the safety of airplanes. Indeed, given what has happened with two 737 MAX aircraft in less than six months, we are better off with a “Prove You Are Not UNSafe” approach to airplanes.
It remains a bit of a mystery why Trump spoke with the CEO of Boeing about the 737 MAX crisis, but not with the heads of the Association of Flight Attendants or the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, who called for the grounding of the airplanes and whose members were at risk in the air every day. As one who often looks through a “what’s in it for me” prism, it is surprising Trump ignored those groups and missed an opportunity to build support among labor unions critical to his re-election chances next year. A rare misstep. Regardless, Trump got to the right place.
Perhaps channeling the comedian Chris Rock who bemoans people getting credit for “what they’re supposed to do,” such as paying taxes or taking care of their kids, some might suggest that the president does not deserve praise for grounding the 737 MAX airplanes. But given the frequency and intensity with which Trump is criticized when he falls short, it seems only fair to praise his decision grounding all 737 MAX airplanes until we can figure out “what the hell is going on” – to borrow a phrase!