The other day, emptywheel discussed Mitt Romney's idea about how to prevent fires on airplanes:
But now that she is safe–but looking ahead to six more solid weeks of chartered air travel–I’m surprised by Mitt’s problem solving process. The solution to this scare, Mitt says, is to make it possible to open windows on planes.“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”
Never mind the obvious reasons you can’t have windows that open on jets, never mind the additional problems introduced if you tried to have open windows in the cockpit, where the fire and smoke–and therefore the greatest risk–broke out.
An Airplane Window on Mitt’s Thinking
Tell you what, let's belabor those obvious reasons for a moment. Mitt Romney, the candidate of one of the major political parties for the highest office in this country, believes that a crackerjack way of preventing fires on aircraft is to build windows into them you can open. I think we should belabor this point a moment, because it appears that you can graduate from an exclusive private school and then go on to graduate from a prestigious private university, and not understand that airplanes fly at altitudes where it's impossible to breathe without assistance, and that they travel at something beyond 150 miles per hour (240 kilometers per hour) so they can stay in the air.
A candidate for President thinks that a good way to deal with a fire problem in a large metal tube that's full of potential debris is to send a hurricane-force wind through it, and starve all the passengers of oxygen, because they won't be able to find their oxygen masks in the smoke and wind before they pass out.
Forget all the nonsense about how dealing with that kind of pressure differential requires lots of extra weight and materials when you want the option of opening another hole in the plane. That's specialized knowledge and an engineering problem. I think it's sufficient to say that if the airplane makers and the numerous government agencies around the world that regulate them had thought it was a good idea, there would be windows you can open on an airplane. (I mean, besides the ones that are already in cockpits, which is the part of the plane where the fire originated - more specialized knowledge.) What I mention in the previous paragraph are things that any educated person should know, and Romney clearly doesn't.
What's sad about this isn't just that Romney was the best choice of one political party for a position of national leadership. It's that he was already chosen as a leader. He ran Bain Capital, which was responsible for managing (one could say destroying) companies with thousands of employees. This is typical of how we manage things nowadays, as emptywheel goes on to observe:
The charter company Mitt uses most–Air Charter Team–is a broker. It doesn’t operate or staff the planes involved. They contract our to other operators. They ensure the safety of the planes they deal with by contracting with a research company to grade the teams they use.[all links from original article]
An Airplane Window on Mitt’s Thinking
In other words, the people who control the finances of this transportation company, who decide how much money it needs to do its job, and whether to perform particular parts of the business in house or through contract, don't know a thing about the business they're running. They're a bunch of Mitt Romneys - people who, for all the expert industry knowledge they bring to the table, might as well be drooling idiots. They're the kind of people who, when you can't explain in a sentence or two why you need to do something that's vital in your line of work, get bored and tell you to get out of their office.
This is how we do things in America nowadays. If events in Europe are any guide, it's how things are done there nowadays, too. You'd think that no sane person would choose to do things this way, particularly in an industry where the consequences are that the person you love most in the world could die on the way to visiting you. Yet it's a rare business or political leader these days who doesn't think this is just a jim-dandy way to run an economy. Romney chose that charter company using the same criteria he used to run all those companies he killed while he was running Bain.
What Mitt Romney would do to us as President, particularly as opposed to what Barack Obama will do, pales in comparison to the fact that there are so many other Mitt Romneys wandering around out there. How else do you explain the cast of characters who ran for the Republican nomination this time, or the ones who ran for the Democratic Party's in 2008? They're almost universally a bunch of people who stumble trying to recite the bigoted nonsense and sound like they know it and mean it.
And in most cases, you can figure that they probably do mean it.
Afterword: Taylor Marsh has the perfect quote to describe Bain Capital's mission while Mitt Romney ran it:
Harvest the financial organs of a company, then leave it and the workers who depend on it for their livelihood dead.
Romney Video from 1985: Bain Goal to “Harvest” Companies for Profits
As the title indicates, the article has a video of Romney discussing Bain's mission.