In the days following the election, I promised that I would criticize the president when he did wrong, and praise him when he did right. I figured that was only fair and, due to the actions of the new administration during the past month or so, I think I’ve held up my end on the former, but golly, I haven’t had much of a chance to uphold the promise for praise. Here, however, we had an example of both Arizona Sen. John McCain and President Obama doing the right thing — not only that, but Obama responded to the question in pretty much the exact same way I would if I had been asked the same thing. I don’t care who you are . . . the president’s response was pretty darned funny.
Of course, both McCain and Obama did the right thing (a) while cameras were rolling and (b) during a summit on fiscal responsibility so, given the ulterior motives and the pure hypocrisy of the moment, I’m not sure how much weight I’m willing to give it.
Still, it warrants noting that Lockheed beat out Sikorsky for the $6.1 billion contract to build the next generation of presidential helicopters by promising that it could create the chopper more effectively and more efficiently than its competitor. Now, we’ve seen that original number balloon out of control, so much so that McCain wasn’t far off when he mentioned that the cost could rival that of creating a new Air Force One.
The Arizona senator also raised an interesting point, too, about the Defense Department and government’s use of cost-plus contracts. While it wasn’t captured in the video, he used technology companies such as Microsoft and Cisco as examples and said something along the lines of how these giant companies cannot simply do business with the same sort of cost-plus contracts used by the Defense Department and federal government as a whole. And he’s right.
I remember, years ago, former Vice President Al Gore coming onto David Letterman’s show in 1993 and actually letting loose a bit, providing a glimpse of a sense of humor that other people swear he actually has. He was talking about the cost of items in the federal government, the $10,000 ashtray, the $15,000 hammer, the $20,000 toilet seat, and so on and so forth. Point being, this is a problem that faces America, not just the political right and political left. Sure, it might be more likely actually confronted by the party with roots [ignored for too long] in fiscal conservatism rather than the party which, just today, proposed another $410 billion in spending, but the problem must be confronted now rather than later.
This is the sort of thing I hope to see from our government, only I’d really like to know that it is happening behind closed doors instead of before cameras, and that it is being addressed at summits on fiscal responsibility which don’t actually follow $787 billion in wasteful spending and precede $410 billion more. We can do it in this country. We really can. But it’s going to take a radical sea change as to how we do business in Washington, not simple a radical in the White House who got there by making empty promises of such change.
Now, if you’ll excuse me for a little while — now that I managed to praise both Barack Obama and John McCain in only a matter of a few paragraphs, not to mention acknowledging that Al Gore has a sense of humor, I feel as though I need a shower.