Reuters reported over the holiday weekend that airlines “recorded zero accident deaths in commercial passenger jets last year.” The findings were released by a Dutch consulting firm and an aviation safety group that tracks crashes, which concluded that 2017 was “the safest year on record for commercial air travel.”
Most folks who saw these reports probably said to themselves, “Huh, that’s interesting.” Donald Trump saw these reports and seemed eager to tell himself, “Wait, I’d like to take credit for that.” Here’s the message the president shared with the world this morning:
“Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!”
Sometimes, the line between satire and reality is blurred in ways that are almost hard to believe.
At this point, we could take a moment to note that the United States hasn’t seen a fatal airline passenger jet crash in nearly nine years – a detail Barack Obama never thought to brag about. We could also note that presidents whose records are actually impressive don’t need to claim credit for accomplishments they have nothing to do with.
We could even explore the mysterious meaning of “strict on commercial aviation” – your guess is as good as mine – which comes against a backdrop of the Trump administration having taken steps early last year that actually “hampered the ability of the Federal Aviation Administration to issue safety orders about aircraft.”
And while all of those angles are certainly worthy of mention, I’d prefer to focus on something else entirely: when the conversation turns to airplanes, Donald Trump gets a little weird.
In November, for example, the president seemed to suggest he believes the F-35 fighter jet is literally invisible. “Even if [the enemy] is right next to it, it can’t see it,” Trump said.
It was the latest addition in the Trump-says-odd-things-about-planes franchise, which also includes the president lying about Japan buying U.S. fighter jets and lying about Finland doing the same thing.
Trump has also been caught falsely bragging about lowering the price of a new Air Force One, which was followed by a series of claims about saving taxpayers millions on F-35 fighter jets, which were also demonstrably wrong.
In September, Trump interrupted a meeting with members of Congress to complain that the emir of Kuwait’s plane was bigger than his. Two months later, Trump made up a bizarre story about Barack Obama, while aboard Air Force One, trying and failing to land in the Philippines last year.
Now the Republican president wants credit for safe commercial air travel for reasons that clearly don’t make any sense.
I don’t imagine Trump is interested in my advice, but perhaps he should avoid talking about airplanes altogether for a while?