If you thought that politics was a matter of party, with the virtuous Democrats battling to save the Republic from the evil imperial Republicans (or vice versa), you’d have to swallow a mouthful of crow after looking at today’s roll call vote in the Senate to bring the F-22 fighter program to an end.
The F-22 is an extremely expensive weapon. A billion dollars will build the government just three, and the cost just begins there. As the Washington Post has revealed, the plane manages to fly just 1.7 hours on average before suffering a critical failure, and requires 34 hours of maintenance for every hour it flies. It has never hit its contracted reliability goals. It can’t be flied reliably in the rain. It can’t even communicate with other planes. And its purpose? To defeat the hypothetical next-generation aircraft of the Soviet Union, a country that no longer exists.
Senate roll call vote 235 struck $1.75 Billion in funding to build more of these hugely expensive, unreliable and unneeded airplanes. Take a look at that 58-40 roll call vote to cancel the F-22, but before you do, consider what you think you’ll see. War hawk Republicans propping the F-22 white elephant? Peacenik Democrats voting to end the program?
Think again. Look at the names of the conservative Republicans who voted to end the F-22 program:
Sen. John Barasso of Wyoming
Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee
Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina
Sen. John Ensign of Nevada
Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona
Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana
Sen. John McCain of Arizona
Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama
Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio
Now look at the names of all the Democrats who voted to continue this defense contracting swindle:
Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii
Sen. Max Baucus of Montana
Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska
Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico
Sen. Barbara Boxer of California
Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia
Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington
Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California
Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire
Sen. John Tester of Montana
Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico
Notice all the pairs of states among F-22 opposing Republicans, and all the other pairs of states among F-22 supporting Democrats? The Republicans voting against the F-22 are largely Republicans from states in which there isn’t an industry of F-22 production. The Democrats voting for the continued building of F-22s are largely Democrats from states in which there’s significant production of F-22 parts.
This isn’t Democratic politics, and it isn’t Republican politics. It’s politics dictated by the geographical distribution of the military-industrial machine. The machine lost today because F-22 contractor Lockheed Martin didn’t stuff its factories into enough states to buy enough senators’ compliance.