WASHINGTON – The plane that was supposed to bring dozens of journalists to Europe to cover President Biden’s first overseas trip was on the runway ready to take off.
The cicadas had other ideas.
Somehow the flying insects had filled the plane’s engines, left it on the ground, and forced Mr. Biden’s aide to find another way to get the reporters overseas. What was supposed to be a 9 p.m. departure was postponed until 11 a.m. and then until 2:15 a.m.
Perhaps it was inevitable as billions of cicadas have been flying across much of the eastern United States in the past few weeks. In the nation’s capital, where a brood that pops up every 17 years is near its animal peak, they’ve crawled up the necks of TV journalists, splashed on the windshields of cars, and got themselves caught in the hair of anyone who’s the swampy Defies 90 degree heat.
White House travel officials broke news of the insect malfunction to reporters gathered at the airport hotel and assured them that a new plane would fly from New York to Washington. There would be a new pilot in Cleveland soon – and both officials hoped would make it safely through the cicada cloud, which was thick enough around Washington to be tracked by the weather radar.
Pizza was delivered, along with the option to get a few twinks in a room in the hotel. The bar extended its hours for those who chose to stay up instead.
On Twitter, the news of the delay – tweeted from a room full of journalists – quickly evoked sympathy, contempt, and the usual snappy comments that only a story about Washington’s politics can generate.
“Are the cicadas to be considered hijackers and is the FBI negotiating the release of the plane?” a person tweeted “What are the requirements of the cicadas?”
Another wrote, “Check for #maga shells,” clearly indicating that this was the Biden press corps.
When one person wrote, “These cicadas are the enemies of the press,” another replied, “Did the GOP indoctrinate and recruit the cicadas?”
And more than one person made it clear that they weren’t particularly upset about the inconvenience of the White House press corps.
“The press charter has been delayed?” Wrote one after hearing about the episode. “I commend these patriotic cicadas for their good work!”