THE BLOG

We're Not Electing an Airline Pilot

02/24/2008 12:43 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Roseanne Barr makes an analogy about the democratic primaries in a recent post by saying that she doesn't want her airline pilot to inspire her; she just wants him (or her) to fly the plane well. I'd like to take a stab at proving her point...

The president of the United States is the voice and face of the nation to the rest of the world, just like...

An airline pilot is the voice and face of the airline to the other airlines.

The president needs to cajole and inspire congress and the American people to support his political agenda, just like...

An airline pilot needs to cajole and inspire the flight crew, air traffic control, and the passengers in order to land at the right airport.

The president must personally negotiate with world leaders or designate surrogates to negotiate with their governments on issues as far ranging as trade, immigration, and issues of war and peace, just like...

An airline pilot has to personally negotiate or designate surrogates to negotiate with other airline pilots on issues of mergers, stock prices, and fare wars.

The next president must lift up a country after seven years of war, fear of terrorism, erosion of our civil liberties, and the overwhelming hatred of us by the rest of the world, just as...

An airline pilot has to fly a plane after....um...it has just crashed?

Okay, I'll stop there. The "airline pilot" argument -- just as many of the arguments the Clinton and McCain camps have been putting out there against Obama -- is as silly as it is distracting. First of all, the ability to inspire people and the ability to "fly the plane" (to belabor the clumsy analogy) are not -- and have never been in our best leaders -- mutually exclusive. And, secondly, the ability to move people, to inspire them to action, to get them off their sofas and out to a rally or a voting booth to take part in their democracy is not only relevant but it is in fact nothing less than the stated goal of every single person who has ever run for political office in this country.