- The Washington Times - Monday, March 31, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Let the voters decide

The issue of superdelegates being able to determine who the Democratic Party nominee will be doesn’t pass the smell test (“Why not let voters decide?” Commentary, Saturday). It seems that the entire process of electing a president has been purloined from the people and placed into the hands of a select few. How can this be?

If a nominee wins the popular vote and also wins a majority of delegates, what is the benefit to the entire process if the will of the people is subject to subversion by a select few?

Why even bother with the costly process? Just allow those superdelegates to decide who the nominee will be. Think of the millions of campaign dollars that would be saved.

It would seem that the Democrats have designed a process that guarantees the nomination of whomever those superdelegates deign to “elect” among themselves. As I said, something just doesn’t smell right here.

ROBERT DI STEFANO

Abingdon, Md.

A good deal for America

The Air Force’s selection of Northrop Grumman to build its replacement for the KC-135 surprised many Pentagon-watchers. It also unleashed an unfortunate tsunami of shock and indignation from some politicians.

I, too, am shocked but not at the Air Force’s decision. I’m shocked at the shrill rhetoric and outright falsehoods being hurled at the winners of this competition. If we are to have a national discussion on jobs and the defense industry, it should be based on facts.

First, and perhaps most obviously, Northrop Grumman is an American company. With its headquarters in Los Angeles, it employs 120,000 Americans in every corner of our great nation. Northrop Grumman has been a fixture in American aerospace from the F6F “Hellcat” and P-61 “Black Widow” to the F/A-18 “Hornet” and B-2 stealth bomber. Northrop Grumman is as American as apple pie and baseball.

Second, Northrop Grumman had the courage to enter the competition, knowing it was the underdog. It secured suppliers in the same manner as its competitor and its victory will employ 48,000 Americans in 49 states in direct and indirect jobs. That’s a significant boost to America’s industrial base.

More than 7,500 of those jobs are in California, 4,000 in Arizona, 1,800 in New Mexico and 2,300 in Ohio. Plus, 5,000 of those Americans call Alabama home. To decry the Air Force’s decision as sending jobs overseas ignores the reality of these thousands of American jobs being created at home. It also ignores the fact that the Northrop Grumman tanker program does not transfer any jobs from the United States overseas. Actually, with the Northrop win, new jobs will be added to the U.S. industrial base.

Third, the competition for the tanker contract was the most rigorous and transparent in the history of the Air Force. It certainly has been the most scrutinized. The Defense Department inspector general, the Government Accountability Office and Army and Navy acquisition personnel were all involved to ensure fair methodologies were used in judging the competitors’ proposals. Throughout the process, both competitors praised the Air Force for conducting a fair and open competition.

Fourth, in America, when you have a competition, the winner is supposed to be selected on the merits, not because someone wanted to change the rules after the factbecause their competitor didn’t win.

Two great American companies competed, so who won?

Our troops won because they are getting an aircraft the Air Force decided has the most capabilities. Our citizens won because the Air Force selected the aircraft that was judged to be the best value to the taxpayers. Our nation won because America is getting a second aerospace sector and the first new wide-body aircraft manufacturing plant in 40 years.

Politicians always talk about giving our troops the best equipment. Well, a fair competition judged this aircraft as being the best equipment for our troops. It’s dismaying to hear some in Congress now talking about blocking funds so the Air Force can’t replace its aging fleet of tankers just because Northrop Grumman won. The average age of these tankers is now almost 50 years old.

In a time of war, it would be an outrage if politics forced our troops to wait any longer for the equipment they need, or if politics forced an inferior product on them.

BOB RILEY

Governor of Alabama

Montgomery, Ala.

A victory for Boys Town

Thank you very much for the accurate reporting in the article “Court hits District for blocking homes for disabled” (Business, March 15). Federal Judge James Robertson ruled that the District of Columbia had violated the law by denying Boys Town a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act for our project in Southeast.

The judge’s order called the Nov. 2 assertion of the District “wrong nonsensical toward the disingenuous side of the range.” The judge also said: “Boys Town has settled its claims against the District.” It was a financial settlement in Boys Town’s favor.

I tip my hat to the Justice Department and wish to thank all those who have made us proud that the department is worthy of that name. Bravo.

FATHER VAL J. PETER

Executive director emeritus

Father Flanagan’s Boys Home

Boys Town, Neb.

‘Dead men walking’

Donald Lambro’s article “Dean raps Obama, Clinton over attacks” (Nation, Saturday) says as much about Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean as it does about the nature of the Democrats’ race for the nomination.

Mr. Dean’s admonishment to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama to stop attacking one another because it is demoralizing the party’s base and damaging its chances of winning back the White House in November is not surprising, considering the source, but it is laughable just the same. What are they supposed to do, not campaign against each other?

I think there are two other underlying factors that are starting to surface in the Democratic nomination race: payback and political survival payback in the form of Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, the son of a popular former governor, coming out in support of Mr. Obama because of the decision by President Clinton at the 1992 Democratic convention to keep his father from addressing the delegates on abortion.

And there is political survival in the form of Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont. The influential Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and Obama supporter became the first party leader in the Senate to suggest Mrs. Clinton should drop out of the race.

Mr. Leahy came out in support of Mr. Obama a few weeks ago. I think he clearly understands that, like close basketball games in March Madness, the longer a candidate is able to keep the score close and hang around, the better his or her chances to win it at the buzzer or, in this case, at the convention.

Accordingly, I suggest that, if Mrs. Clinton wins her party’s nomination and then, heaven forbid, wins the presidency, Democrats like Mr. Leahy and Gov. Bill Richardson who have come out in support of Mr. Obama (and, thus, against the Clintons) and who have already been added to the Clintons’ “payback list,” will be, for all intents and purposes, “dead men walking” politically.

COL. BLAKE J. ROBERTSON

Marine Corps (retired)

Stafford, Va.

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