Samuel Johnson allegedly said that patriotism was the last refuge of a scoundrel. Since this utterance, quite a few scoundrels have repeated the statement to imply that every patriot was a scoundrel.
If we were to insert the adjective â€˜falseâ€™ (the French faux might be better) before â€˜patriotâ€™ we might get a bit closer to the truth.
The ongoing squabble over the USAF tanker contract award provides a case in point. Among the hacks beating the political drums for Boeing are Democrat Representatives Jim McDermott and Rahm Emanuel. These are left-of- center Democrats who like defense spending only when it is pork for their district or part of a fabric of log-rolling. Their ideal procurement would involve a lot of money spent in their district for study and R&D but involve no delivery of deployable hardware.
The original Boeing offering was a costly lease arrangement for a modified commercial airframe that was a bit short of meeting the customerâ€™s requirements. It met with the early displeasure of Senator McCain and an alternative offering with Northrop Grumman as the prime contractor proved to be a better deal for the taxpayers and the potential war fighters.
Now comes a faux patriotism and thinly-veiled xenophobia with a dash of protectionism.
We now see Francophobia being exploited to reverse a procurement in which proven components would be obtained from a European subcontractor that manufactures the Airbus. One might ask what percentage of the components of Boeing airliners are procured off-shore. Donâ€™t expect an answer that is quick or correct. There is also a national security concern over the alleged export of critical technology. Yet any purely military elements of the aircraft will be assembled domestically. What is the problem?