I resolved to leave the TV off all day not long ago and not turn it on until evening, when I knew I could get recaps of the events and idiocy of the day. As I was conducting this small experiment in staying focused, this phrase leapt to my mind: “Heads down, stay down.” It’s the phrase flight attendants chant as an aircraft is making an emergency landing. It entered public awareness several years ago when Sully (Capt. Chesley Sullenberger), the U.S. Airways pilot who landed an airliner in the Hudson River with no loss of life, told reporters he was assured that the passengers were in good hands when he heard the flight attendants shouting that command as he took the plane down.
My TV-free day followed hard on the heels of Donald Trump’s maiden speech to the United Nations—you know, the one where we saw Chief of Staff John Kelly holding his head in his hands. In despair? Embarrassment? Both?
Divorced from the TV, I felt I was behaving just like those passengers: Keeping my head down, preparing for the crash. The difference between me and those travelers is that their lives were in the hands of an adult, a smart, experienced, conscientious pilot; my life, and all of yours, dear readers, are in the hands of a child, an ignorant, reckless, narcissist, who entertains himself by insulting and threatening his most volatile adversary and, in effect, challenging him to bring on the bombs.
After landing in the Hudson and seeing the passengers out, Sully walked the length of the plane—twice—to ensure that no-one had been left behind. I think we can be sure that in a similar situation, with Trump at the helm, we’d all be on our own. Guess who’d be the first one out.