President’s Inaugural Speech Does not Augur Well for Aviation?

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President Obama’s second inaugural address


The inaugural speech is one of the most carefully crafted documents of a Presidency. The word choices are scrutinized by his political pundits, Capitol Hill strategists, spin meisters, Members of his Cabinet, his pollsters and some of the most able speech writers in the country, if not the world (Washington’s was written by James Madison; JFK by Theodore White). The team of contributors to the Address are highly conscious that every phrase and paragraph will be inspected for hidden meanings, policy guidance and statement of priorities.

The Washington Post, for example, has nine separate articles dissecting the TRUE meaning of the address. One item by one of the paper’s most astute analysts is entitled “The most important paragraph of President Obama’s second inaugural address.” The level of attention devoted to divine the verbiage’s (18.5 minutes of spoken words) is both incredible and expected.

This document is about 2,000 words long and there is NO mention of aviation. This is especially disappointing when one remembers that the FAA’s NextGen is in the largest civil infrastructure program in the history of the federal government.

Given that it is expected that his text will be examined under a microscope, one has to look askance at the words so carefully chosen for this sentence:

“Together we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.”

While one of the Post’s columnists noted “inaugural addresses are not typically venues for detailed policy proposals,” it would have been propitious to those of us who labor in the air transportation sector to see mention of “airways” in the string of modes that contribute to travel and commerce. The absence of even a glancing reference implies that aviation is not top of mind for a 2nd Obama Administration.

Is this omission a bad omen or the ruminations of an overly pessimistic reader? Only time will tell.

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