Is Babbitt Good For GA?
I guess the biggest question I have about the nomination of Randy Babbitt as FAA administrator is what took so long. What I hope is that given the enormity of the other issues facing President Barack Obama's administration, that the comparatively trivial matters of airspace modernization and FAA funding simply took a back seat. If that's the case, Babbitt seems like as good a choice as any and will put his own spin on the bureaucratic inertia that seems to run everything anyway.
What I'm afraid of is that the delay in the nomination was the result of a determined process by Obama to get exactly what he wants out of the FAA. And since that's the way the new president seems to have tackled every other department, I suspect this to be the case.
Why is that so ominous?
Well, Obama has been demonstrably and unapologetically disdainful of general aviation in the early days of his presidency and he may have skipped over the former front runners for the job because their goals didn't match his.
I think Obama has embarked on a softening up campaign to get the country ready for some legislation that will raise a huge ruckus among the GA community. Those voices need to be muted by the overwhelming majority of constituents who are being deliberately misled about the role and function of GA.
What else could be behind Obama's consistent reliance on the use of business aircraft as an example of CEO abuse of privilege, power and, in some cases, taxpayer money. Now, Obama knows very well how important and effective business aviation is as a competitive and productivity tool but he'll only admit that (through a spokesman) when pressed hard and those comments are rarely heard. It's his flippant and offhand remarks about business travel that get the headlines and resonate in the populist message he's perfected.
If bizjet bashing continues, the recession-weary mainstream electorate will be all too willing to dismiss any kind of dissent from the aviation community as whining by the rich and the congressmen and senators who represent them will have to agree.
Is Babbitt the instrument of this plan or am I just paranoid?
I'm betting on the former but I'd be happy with the latter.