Sunday, February 11, 2007

Why the Pelosi aircraft thing matters..........

A couple of days ago (maybe more, the last few days have been a blur....) Tony Snow came out and defended Nancy Pelosi's request to live above her means. Dear Tony, you are wrong. This really matters.

Here is why.

The Air Force has, as a part of its assigned missions, the requirement to provide and maintain the those sparkling aircraft that say United States of America on them. Contrary to popular belief the 89th Airlift Wing, which operates these aircraft does not have an unlimited supply of them. By my count, they have about 14 aircraft of 5 type model series. While many of these aircraft were procured through the "good deal" system of being inserted into the budget, they also do have some method to the madness. They have aircraft of various types, but most of them are some variant of the Gulfstream.

Now traveling on a Gulfstream does not suck. I've traveled in one, and to borrow a phrase from Pharris Bueller, "It is so choice. If you have the means I strongly encourage you to get one."

The point is the larger aircraft are used for longer haul missions and for moving larger groups of VIPS. That is the way the system is supposed to work. Using the C-32 (a 757) for Ms Pelosi guarantees that there will be a conflcit of resources in the future. Some other delegation traveling off on a boondoggle fact finding trip will have to look for the travel some place else. Congressmen don't like being told no.

And what will happen is that the folks in the Legislative Affairs offices will jump through hoops and other airlift assets will be found, particulalry if there is a reserve airlift squadron in the Chairman's district. In the end the person who gets told no, will be the working Sailor or Soldier whose unit needs to move someplace. I've seen this actually happen. Later this week I will regale you with the trip of Curt Weldon ( the guy who got beat by Joe Sestak) to North Korea. It is a sad tale of Congressional delegations, reserve politics, and micro-management. I don't have the time to post it now as the folks waiting for the computer might shoot me first. What seems to be lost in this little deal is that "Nobody rides for free", there is always an opportunity cost that is never accounted for.

Besides, she is not the only female Democrat who wants a bigger airplane:


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