Which 10 Percent? From the Hudson to Inaugural Balls

finefrockaby Steve Finefrock, founder Hollywood Conservative Forum

Walking on the Hudson River, they were!

Near the USS Intrepid, passengers of an A-320 airbus seemed Obama-like, escaping a water ditching after a flight of geese took down US Airways flight 1549 out of La Guardia airport. Extended flotation capacity built into this model aircraft paid off: passengers offloaded and stood ankle-deep in frigid Hudson water, seemingly Christ-like in clear skies, even if frigid cold, and bright mid-daylighting, stretched along the wing just beneath the chilly waves.

And, no fire or smoke to obscure escape pathways!

FAA simulations discovered something interesting in human behavior when a long, narrow, sealed tube, crowded with anxious folks seeking an exit, is filled with vision-obscuring smoke. The behavior broke into three groups: 80% were instinctive ‘followers’ looking for a leader. The remainder were putative ‘leader’ types, broken down into two sub-groups: one-half [10% of the total ‘passenger’ load of test subjects] had the intrinsic instinct to make the CORRECT CHOICE regarding the proper direction to take toward safety.

The other ten percenters who self-identified themselves as capable of leadership, would cry out ‘follow me’ – just as did the correct-leaders, but this second, lesser-half of the ‘leadership’ group had the WRONG INSTINCTS. Follow these ‘leaders’ and you’re dead. Follow the ‘correct’ leader(s) and you will live. But who knows which stranger among all these unknown passengers is the Correct Leader?

In such simulations, the passengers recruited for the staged emergency were unacquainted, as would be true-life passengers. So they had no prior ‘tag’ about any likely ‘leaders’ who emerged during the smoke-filled post-crash simulation. Yet, in this situation, they would ‘live’ or ‘die’ depending entirely on a split-second choice on which leader would be believed, and which would be ignored.

If one ‘leader’ or set of ‘leaders’ seemed capable, that would be the choice of most passengers. Also, who spoke up first with “follow me” had an influence. Demeanor, dress, voice, body language – many factors determined who was followed – to Safety or Death.

And so, Dear Citizens, who will we follow nationally?

We’ve chosen a leader – not chosen for us like an aircraft pilot is chosen by elites of the corporation, rather than an election for pilot – from among two who each proclaimed a claim on leadership. Millions of citizen passengers made that choice, long before the nation’s cabin fills with smoke. When a crisis arises, What Will OTO Do?

OTO – Obama The One – will be the one walking on water this coming inaugural, and given water-wings by the media and intelligentsia and academics and historians galore. What will prick a hole in those sacred waterwings? When he ‘leads’ us in the first crisis, from which ten percent will he prove himself to belong?

Unlike airline passengers, we voting citizens had a long-g-g time to evaluate this ‘pilot’ prior to any crash, fire, smoke and need to save ourselves. Did we choose well? Which Ten Percent includes OTO in their membership? Any pilot of a flying craft, of any size and power rating, has no option to ‘vote present’ when he or she is in full and undiluted charge of the craft, and any passengers.

Will our ‘pilot’ know what to do? He’s never been individually responsible for so much as a hot-dog stand or ten-float parade. Always part of a crowd, a legislator or ‘organizer’ his total past ‘experience’ – from which he’s been promoted to be the pilot in chief, of a daily flight filled with millions of citizen passengers, dependent on his decisions. Will we be as lucky with OTO as flight 1549’s passengers experienced?

Confidence in OTO as pilot?

Not moi – a scary future beckons. January 20th will be cause to celebrate for me, but only because of a friend’s birthday. On the Southern Zodiac, she’s fried okra – this OTO celebration on her personal day is focused on a messiah who is undercooked and over-sold. His middle name may be Hussein, but his middle-initials are “P.T.” as in P.T. Barnum: whose most famous line was, There’s a sucker born every minute.

Or, H.L., as in Mencken, who decried, No on in America ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the buying public. Barnum actually took singular charge of a major entrepreneurial company: no “voting present” in his CEO job. He knew how to decide. Mencken was just a wise-guy commentator.

One had flight experience, the other just a voyeur: a critic who watches others’ behavior and makes wise-guy wise-cracks. OTO falls in the second group: articulating how he’d do it, when he’d never done any executive task in his life.

But, we’re stuck with this pilot. The skies are clear, the engines working as he takes the joystick. Is there a flight of unexpected geese lying ahead? Can he put an injured craft of state on a safe landing? Or will his captaincy be that of Air Farce One?

My trepidation is almost palpable as the 20th approaches – but for one friend as a cause of celebration, it would be cause for depression. All like-minded conservatives can toast the Fried Okra birthday gal. Even as we worry and wait and clench our teeth that a flight of geese won’t prove which ten percent is the ‘leadership’ group of OTO.

That this crash was in sight of tourists on the USS Intrepid serves more metaphor maintenance: a major display of our carrier capacity, even as the last of the super-carrier Nimitz-class ships was inaugurated this week by George H.W. Bush, its namesake. The Intrepid saved us, along with its Essex class-cousins, in WW2 and Korea and Vietnam.

The USS George H.W. Bush goes into service as the water-walking ship’s captain takes the oath of Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Bush and Reagan. Will OTO acquit himself half as well as the pilot of US Air flight 1549? When the clock begins on the coming noon oath, it will linger every second of every day of every week like that atomic scientists’ famed Cold War Doomsday Clock: a few minutes before midnight.

Each second of the next four years will tick with the question: DO YOU SMELL SMOKE?

And the Big Question: Which Ten Percent is in the Oval?


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