The EU

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Monday, May 31, 2010

Al Haig Reprise.

Saying you are in charge can get you in trouble.  Think of the late Secretary of State Al Haig saying that he was in charge after President Reagan was shot.  He was doing the right thing.  The Vice President was out of town and Secretary Haig wanted to send a signal around the world that US Government had not broken down as a result of the assassination attempt.

Now we have The New York Times saying "White House Struggles as Criticism on Leak Mounts.

The dollar quote is from Ms Carol M. Browner, the Administrations energy adviser (and President Clinton's head of the EPA):
“This is obviously a difficult situation,” Ms. Browner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, “but it’s important for people to understand that from the beginning, the government has been in charge.”
Being "in charge" is not the solution to anything.

Going back to my days at a lieutenant, flying in the Pit of the Old F-4, I remember when I wrote up the radar fire control system of a particular aircraft three times in a row—twice on one day and again the next morning.  The maintenance crews were as frustrated as I was.  After the second write-up I asked the Master Sergeant to call me at the the building we were staying (we were on a deployment) if he got another CND—Can Not Duplicate.  He didn't.  He later said that they had been told not to bother the aircrews during "crew rest".  (Actually, this is a good rule.)

After the third session we cut a deal.  I got in the front seat and the technician got in the back seat and I cranked up the airplane and put it on internal power.  Sure enough, after he turned on the radar and starting doing the BIT Checks (Built in Test) he saw the same errors I had.  Turned out that the Dash 60 External Power Unit they were using for electrical power while doing maintenance was the problem piece of equipment.  It was out of calibration.

Problem solved by cooperation between the operators and the maintainers.  I would be looking for Ms Browner to tell me how the Government and BP are cooperating, not to tell me who is in charge.

Regards  —  Cliff


ncrossland said...

Excellent point. I won't on this glorious Memorial Day delve into my cynicism about the cynicism that has become the hallmark of this Administration.

The New Englander said...

Yup, great vignette. I'd rather see someone raising a hand and saying "I've got it," than I would a bunch of fingers all pointing at each other, but the only thing I'd MORE prefer to see is a solution.

Also, this story gets to the value of different parties speaking to one another. You wouldn't believe (actually, you would) the number of times I've heard people lament that "such-and-such unit sucks because they never tell us anything."

My inevitable follow-up: "Well, did you call over and ask?"

The inevitable reply to that: