Streetcar Line

From Tankers to Terrorists

Five issue areas to consider, with the best -- Democrats -- left for last.

By 4.3.08

Send to Kindle

From the Department of Unrelated Thoughts:

Boeing should cool it. With regard to the air tanker program awarded to Northrup Grumman rather than to Boeing, the latter has implemented a tawdry, heavily politicized campaign to fight the award, even though politics is expressly not supposed to play a role in competitively bid military contracts -- a point made in a letter signed by 22 retired Air Force generals on Monday that strongly supported the Air Force decision in favor of Northrup Grumman. What's amazing is that Boeing even feels as if it has any political ground to stand on, considering its record. This is the same Boeing that lost the tanker contract the first time because some of its people cheated (and went to jail) in the earlier bid. This is the same Boeing that just last month had to admit that the "virtual fence" technology it was supposed to develop for Mexican border security just flat-out doesn't work, meaning that a key part of the border will go unfenced for at least three years longer than earlier promised. This is the same Boeing that just weeks before the contract award was praising the Air Force for the openness and fairness of the competition. Yet now, this twice-disgraced company is not merely appealing the award, but ginning up all sorts of political hardball efforts by Members of Congress who act like Boeing's puppets. What the retired generals said in their letter is the important thing, though: "Delays in the tanker program will only serve to put the lives of crews flying these aging systems in greater jeopardy." And that's what this really is all about: the safety of our crews and the effectiveness of their missions. Already, because of the earlier Boeing scandal, the new tanker program has lost about four years. If it loses much more time, Boeing could have blood on its hands.

Hillary Clinton has no conscience. The Bosnia lie was bizarre. But some of her manifold other lies were arguably more sinister. The best compendium of Hillary mendacity (and at-least-near-criminality) available right now is Hillary: The Movie, and the book version thereof, produced by Citizens United and its indefatigable leader, Dave Bossie. (Full disclosure: Last fall, I did a final copy-edit for -- but did not write -- the book.) And no, this isn't a mere rehashing of the familiar scandals of the 1990s -- although an appendix by Deroy Murdock, reprinted in the February issue of The American Spectator, does delve into the old story of Hillary's crooked cattle futures trading and reports some startlingly overlooked facts -- but rather an examination of more recent scandals that never received the attention they deserved. For instance (according to Dick Morris), there was Hillary's direct involvement with securing pardons for Puerto Rican terrorists. And there was her direct involvement (proved by newly released video) in planning for a major Hollywood fund-raiser for which her campaign was found in major violation of campaign finance laws. And much more. The woman couldn't tell the truth if you spotted her the R, U, T, and H.

John McCain still needs to reach out to Reaganites. McCain might become a great president, because he is terrific on supporting a strong defense and terrific against wasteful government spending. But he'll never become president unless he convinces Reaganite conservatives not just to vote for him, but to work for him -- because it is the Reaganites who do the work (envelope stuffing, phone calling, organizing, etc.) without which no Republican can win the presidency. Yet despite all of the hard feelings between McCain and conservatives, McCain's forces still seem to act as if they believe conservatives are going to fall in line like sheep. Several of his campaign appointments have given conservatives the willies, and his continuing nonsense about global warming doesn't help. (Memo to McCain: global temperatures actually fell in 2007, and if 1998 is used as the baseline, they have fallen, not risen, during the last decade.) And so far his campaign has spent most of its post-primary time emphasizing not any conservative initiatives, but his already-familiar biography. All of which is all the more reason why he needs to consciously reach out to conservatives now, to get them not just grudgingly supportive but excited. And he also needs to name a Reaganite -- not a Bush man (or woman), and not a liberal-leaning Republican to reach out to independents (if McCain can't appeal to independents by himself after all of his time as a "maverick," he doesn't have a chance anyway), but a principled Reaganite who also shares Reagan's reassuring nature -- as his running mate.

Congressional Republicans who protect earmarks are politically obtuse. I challenge anybody, any time, to show evidence that pork wins more elections than it loses. As Rep. Jeff Flake said in a briefing for conservative bloggers on Tuesday, "the whole smell that comes with earmarks" is a large part of what caused Republican losses in 2006. And Flake, an Arizonan who has spent time on the campaign trail with McCain, noted that McCain's "biggest applause lines anywhere he speaks" are when he pledges to "make the authors of earmarks famous" -- as examples of everything that is wrong with the system.

And speaking of federal spending issues, Democratic leaders are reportedly planning to load lots of extra domestic spending this month onto a "supplemental" spending bill for the Iraq War. This is a classic end-run around budget constraints. But the extra spending is worth a fight, if President Bush will only lead it. Said Flake (in response to my question): "We have the numbers to sustain vetoes on these kinds of things," but, "absent that firm commitment from the president, it is very difficult."

Questions for national Democratic leaders: What, if anything at all, have any one of you ever said or done to actually promote winning the war in Iraq rather than complaining about it? Do you even think the United States has a just cause in Iraq? More broadly speaking about the overall war against jihadist terrorists, who do you think is more dangerous to American liberty: the terrorists, or President Bush? Why do you think the telecom companies should be liable for multi-trillion-dollar lawsuits for their help in electronic surveillance of terrorists if your own Senate Intelligence Committee chairman (and more than two-thirds of the whole Senate) says their help was essential for national protection and that they acted in good faith upon convincing assurances of the program's lawfulness? And if international jihadist terrorists are a threat only because they have been provoked by President Bush, as you seem to believe, how do you explain the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the bombings of our African embassies in 1998, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and, for that matter, 9/11? And if you don't think Saddam Hussein was a key instigator of terrorism, how do you explain his deliberate harboring of vicious terrorists Abu Nidal (involved in the 1986 hijacking of Pan Am Flight 73) and Abu Abbas (hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro), and his sponsorship of the Salman Pak terrorist training camp just outside of Baghdad? Or do you even care? Do you think that somehow we Americans are actually to blame for the terrorists' hatred of us? And do you think that U.S. national interests are by their very nature moral and just because of the moral and just nature of our very society -- and if, as I suspect, you do not so think, then why not? And would you be willing to have an open debate on whether or not U.S. national interests are moral and just in and of themselves?

I am sure John McCain would willingly debate you on that question. And McCain would be right.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
Quin Hillyer is a senior editor of The American Spectator and a senior fellow at the Center for Individual Freedom. Follow him on Twitter @QuinHillyer.