Last Friday, after smoke from an electrical fire forced Ann Romney’s plane into an emergency landing, Mitt Romney told reporters that airplane fires were a big problem because “you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that.”
That was dumb. But I’m with James Fallows: I think everyone should settle down about this. I wouldn’t be at my best if Marian had just made an emergency landing either, and I might easily say something a little incoherent. Fallows has more:
1) Cut Mitt some slack. His wife had been through an upsetting and potentially dangerous episode. However stressed she was, he might have felt even worse — because he wasn’t there, and because of reason #3 below.
….3) People are afraid of different things, and the reasons aren’t purely logical. Some people are afraid of dogs — or snakes or spiders or rats, or the big needles a doctor uses to give a shot. I don’t mind any of those, but (like many people who fly airplanes) I’m a little queasy with heights. I also get nervous in very tight spaces, and I have an irrational fear and dislike of horses….Here’s why I mention this. I have heard over the years, within the flying world, that Mitt Romney views airplanes more or less the way I view horses. He is (I have heard) not a happy or comfortable flyer, and one who can always imagine things going wrong. Fortunately I don’t actually have to ride horses — but he has no choice but to fly, white-knuckled, from one stop to the next. Someone with this outlook would naturally be all the more rattled by an emergency landing. So cut him all the more slack.
There are plenty of other reasons to mock Mitt. We don’t really need this one too.
UPDATE: Dan Amira says there’s an even better reason to cut Mitt some slack:
The Los Angeles Times story that relayed Romney’s airplane remark to the world was based off a pool report written by the New York Times’s Ashley Parker. When we asked Parker this morning whether it seemed as if Romney made the mark in jest, she left no doubt. “Romney was joking,” she e-mailed. Parker told us that while the pool report didn’t explicitly indicate that Romney was joking, it was self-evident that he was. “The pool report provided the full transcript of his comments on Ann’s plane scare,” she said, “and it was clear from the context that he was not being serious.”