The Trump and Boeing Air Force One controversy sprang from a Donald Trump tweet in which the president-elect threatened to cancel the new presidential planes being constructed by Boeing – supposedly because of their excessive cost. But some are wondering whether this tweet by Trump was really another patented Donald Trump hypersensitive response to someone saying something he didn’t like.
Air Force One and Donald Trump
In this recent tweet, Trump stated that the current cost of the presidential plane contract being carried out by Boeing is excessive, suggesting that $4 billion was simply too much. As was pointed out by the Associated Press, the program is not actually going to cost $4 billion per plane – it’s a good deal less than that – but Donald Trump loves hyperbole.
The billions that are being spent in this program are for multiple planes, not a single one. There will be – and have been in recent years – more than one presidential plane. This not only provides a backup in case one is out of commission, it means other members of the administration can travel under secure conditions.
The Purpose of Air Force One
A presidential plane is more than just a taxpayer-funded means for getting the president and his staff from one place to another. It serves as an airborne Oval Office and command-and-control center, making it possible for the president to manage military forces and other executive department activities from anywhere in the world or even while in flight.
Air Force One is equipped with advanced communications equipment, computers and defensive systems that no ordinary aircraft would have. In some ways, Trump’s objection to the price being charged by Boeing may reflect his misunderstanding of just what being president of the United States entails. The president is not just a business executive jetting from coast-to-coast.
The Trump and Boeing Spat
As reported by CBS News, before the Donald Trump twitter threat to cancel the Boeing Air Force One project, the CEO of Boeing – Dennis Muilenburg – was quoted as suggesting that the Trump administration’s trade policies would have a negative impact on international trade. He particularly noted the effect it would have on Boeing’s trade with China.
Is it merely a coincidence that almost immediately after this statement by Boeing’s CEO, Donald Trump threatened to cancel Boeing’s contract to build Air Force One and its companion planes? Trump has already demonstrated – with his involvement with Carrier’s business decisions – that he’s okay with fairly heavy-handed direct involvement of the federal government in American business and industry.
Of course, this suggestion that the United States government should cancel the presidential plane order with Boeing isn’t exactly in keeping with traditional Republican laissez-faire economic policy. The same can be said of Trump’s interaction with Carrier. In fact, any Democratic president who so directly interfered with the activities of individual companies would be accused of communism by the right-wing media. Strangely, that hasn’t happened to Trump.
The Legal Implications
Many have suggested that the Trump and Boeing Twitter controversy may represent nothing more than petty revenge against a CEO who dared to question Trump’s trade policies. Of course, the incoming Trump administration transition team denies there is any connection between the two situations – but Trump is notorious for having an extremely thin skin.
Throughout his campaign for president – and in the weeks following his unexpected 2016 election win – Trump has repeatedly demonstrated his inability to ignore even the most insignificant slight or opposition. Donald Trump has engaged in Twitter wars with everyone from Saturday Night Live to a former Miss Universe. Trump’s refusal to support Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s reelection bid until the last possible moment is another example of this.
But if it could somehow be proven that Trump really did make a major policy decision based on nothing more than a personal knee-jerk reaction, the legal implications resulting from the Trump and Boeing dustup – as well as the Carrier situation – would be quite alarming for Trump staffers. We’ve heard impeachment calls from Republicans for far less than this.
[Featured Image by Carsten Koall/Getty Images]