This story about the White House, Congress, and their showdown over the sequester/mandatory spending cuts was already mentioned in today's Morning News. But it's worth reading the whole thing for its artful political theater from the auteurs at the White House.
It opens with the Secretary of Transportation—former Republican congressman—making a surprise cameo in the White House briefing room to warn that if the GOP pushes its budget cuts, the "Federal Aviation Administration would have no alternative but to furlough thousands of employees" and close over 100 air-traffic control towers. Meaning: longer lines, flight delays, and even crappier air travel.
Don't trot out a mewling Democrat to warn Americans about worsening health care or social services or other poor-people problems. Send a Republican to hit 'em where the rich and the middle-class live—in the airport! Clever.
And this detail, towards the end of the story, is a gorgeous bit of gamesmanship.
Roger Dow, president and chief executive of the U.S. Travel Association, said the threat of long security lines and flight delays could make travel “the face” of the sequester cuts.
The association has launched a mobile messaging campaign, urging travelers to text the word “DELAYED” to 877-877. In response, they will be connected with their local member of Congress.
Imagine all the bored, irritated people already idling in airports. Now imagine more of them. Some genius Democrat saw those people as an untapped political resource, wasted energy that could be working for the White House while they wait.
Just give them a way to simultanteously channel their irritation, kill some time, and feel like they're doing something useful and civic—by bitching to members of Congress about how Republican budget cuts have made their lives less, not more, efficient.