Honest conservative partisans from either side of the KC-X “tanker war” should concede that there were no perfect choices in awarding the contract for the in-flight refueling aircraft earlier this year.
Ruling in favor of European-owned EADS opened the Air Force up to legitimate national security criticisms, not to mention rewarding a foreign state-owned and operated business for unfair practices. Ruling in Boeing’s favor would have both enraged free trade purists (with long histories of antipathy toward the Washington defense giant) and re-fired old controversies in the Senate.
The just-released Government Accountability Office report should end the tanker controversy — at least within the conservative commentariat. After all, the “free market” opinion, expressed by, among others, the Wall Street Journal and several contributors to National Review, rests on the assumption that the tanker competition was fair.
They assumed that the Air Force chose the best refueling tanker for its needs. If a majority-foreign tanker was selected on the basis of its merits, all the better victory for the principles of laissez faire trade.
This is a sympathetic case for many conservatives, who’d sooner die than look like protectionists and strange bedfellows with John Murtha, Patty Murray and the AFL-CIO. Of course, today’s liberal democrats and unions (as well as Lou Dobbs and Pat Buchanan) are forthrightly protectionist. However, there’s plenty reason to favor Boeing in the “tanker war” that has nothing to do with jingoism.p>Here, the GAO report describes why: br> /p>
We find that the agency’s selection… as reflecting the best value to the government was undermined by a number of prejudicial errors that call into question the Air Force’s decision that Northrop Grumman’s proposal was technically acceptable…. In addition, we find a number of errors in the agency’s cost evaluation that result in Boeing… as the offeror with the lowest evaluated most probable life cycle costs to the government.br> The report could read as a primer on the tanker row thus far (admittedly, though, a dry one), from the initial request for proposals to unlocking the criteria on which the decision should’ve been based.
In detail, it refutes most conservatives’ assumptions about the tanker process in two ways. First, it makes clear — embarrassingly so, to the Air Force — that the process was corrupt. Whether by accident or design, procurement officials misled Boeing regarding the basic criteria on which the award would be given.
The report shows that the tanker decision was rife with irregularities and questionable decisions.
SECONDLY, THE REPORT should go a long way toward correcting the rumors and propaganda disseminated by EADS in the days following the announcement of the award.
In an effort to hurriedly establish talking points to leverage the debate, whisper-campaigns from unnamed sources leaked misleading information to the press about a so-called lopsided victory on the part of the EADS tanker, including that, in the eyes of the Air Force, Boeing was beaten “by a mile.”
The GAO contradicts these talking points, and then some. While most of the proprietary information is blacked-out, the report contends that the Air Force assessed the Boeing and Airbus tankers very differently.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?