A disadvantage of the American form of government is that it combines in one person the ceremonial role of head of state plus the decision-making role of the head of government. In constitutional monarchies like
There is a danger in the
Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has been catching a lot of flak because, unlike his predecessor, he has not been attending all the funerals for
We have had many weather-related national disasters lately, and President Obama has been spending considerable time flying out to promise federal assistance, commiserate with victims, and generally represent the concerns of the nation about them. One wonders, however, if he should consider emulating Governor Kitzhaber instead.
The federal assistance the President promises would arrive anyhow, whether Obama came or not. Concerns could be expressed just as well from the White House as they could from
And then there is the matter of financial and ecological costs. The estimated costs of operating Air Force One vary all over the place, from a low of about $40,000 per hour of flight to a high of $180,000 per hour. At current aviation fuel prices of $5.47 per gallon of Jet-A, Air Force One costs about $23,000 per hour just for fuel , and burning this fuel puts a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
It might be better for the government to donate this money to the Red Cross and let the President stay in the White House and concentrate on governing the country.
Or if this seems too cold-blooded, such ceremonial visits could at least be delegated to the Vice President, whose time is under less pressure and whose smaller airplane would burn less fuel, cost less money, and make a smaller contribution to global warming.
This article has run in the Daily Telegram (Adrian, Michigan). A shortened version has appeared as a letter-to-the-editor in the (Corvallis, Oregon) Gazette-Times.