Congress last month authorized three Air Force versions of this Gulfstream G550 private jet -- for members to fly around the country (and world). Cost to the taxpayer? $200 million.
Congressional Democrats have proven themselves quite adept at shooting themselves in the foot as well. The problem is, when they do so, they hurt the general "brand" of Democrats as well -- of which Barack Obama happens to be one.
Remember when jetsetter was practically synonymous with "Republican"? Not anymore. After dragooning the auto industry executives to Washington last year -- and then giving the Big Three a tongue-lashing for flying in their private jets, House Democrats have decided, heck, they like to fly too -- and it shows.
Roll Call reported this week that the Democratic-controlled House ordered up -- in the defense authorization bill -- three Gulfstream-equivalent Air Force jets that will be made available for the use of members of Congress to fly around the country. The price tag on the planes will be $200 million (the Air Force had only requested one jet).
There's a recession going on, still, right? (Yeah, the unemployment rate "dropping" to 9.4 percent doesn't mean happy days are here again!).
"People are hurting," say the politicians, right?
"Private jets hurt the environment," say the "green" climate-change pols, right?
So, on all these levels, what on earth could Democrats be thinking? Weren't they once the party of the "little guy"? The disconnect is stunning to behold. Obama's had his own stumbles. Conservatives have gotten their sea-legs about them and Democrats have to deal with some real push-back on their policies.
But, the jet fiasco is a perfect example of how Democrats have become their own worst enemies. There's no more perfect a symbol of an out-of-touch politician than one using the public purse to gain even greater social distance from the people that they purport to represent. Appropos of Leona Helmsley who famously said that, "Only the little people pay taxes," House Democrats now must believe that commercial air travel is also only for "the little people."
Another mission for Obama: Corral the members of his own party before they help drive him over a cliff -- or fly him directly into the sun.