President Obama held an economic summit yesterday and he was kind enough to allow John McCain to make one of the first comments.
“I want to see if, John, you’ve got some thoughts,” Mr. Obama said
McCain saw a chance to poke Obama in the eye.
“Your helicopter is now going to cost as much as Air Force One,” Mr. McCain told him. “I don’t think there is any more graphic demonstration of how good ideas have cost taxpayers enormous amounts of money.”By "your helicopter", McCain means the helicopter that President Bush and his administration requested after the 9/11 attacks. The "Marine One" helicopters currently used by the president are relatively old "Blackhawk" helicopters. Bush decided he needed some updated capacity so they went looking for a new helicopter. They found the EH101 produced by a British/Italian conglomerate. Changed the name to VH-71 and voila, a request for a fleet of 28 of these helicopters at a price of over 11 billion dollars. Expensive yes, Obama's helicopter....no.
But President Obama had a surprising reply:
Mr. Obama agreed. “The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me,” he said. “Of course, I’ve never had a helicopter before. Maybe I’ve been deprived and I didn’t know it. But I think it is in example of the procurement process gone amok. And we’re going to have to fix it.”I really liked the touch about never having had a helicopter before, implying that riding in the old VH-60 was just fine by him. Let's see what John McCain says about defense spending in the coming weeks. Do we really need the F-22? Do we really need DX1000's? Can we make do with the less expensive F-35 and Arleigh Burke destroyers that we currently have? I'm guessing McCain will have something very different to say about those expensive items.