“So be it”

    Sometimes the hypocrisy is so scrumptious, so delicious, that you just want to spritz it with lemon and serve it right up.
    For instance, savor this one:House Speaker John Boehner – the self-avowed small government guru who last September said of the Pentagon, “There’s got to be wasteful spending there, unnecessary spending there, it all ought to be eliminated” – went to the mat yesterday in a last-ditch bid to save a multi billion-dollar fighter jet engine project that even the Pentagon considers to be, in the words of Defense secretary Robert Gates, “an unnecessary and extravagant expense.” Boehner, who on Tuesday evinced no concern about draconian Republican spending cuts that would put hundreds of thousands of federal workers on the street (in his words, “so be it”), nevertheless sought yesterday to save a jet engine project that the Pentagon has been trying to kill since the George W. Bush era. Care to guess why Boehner took such a strong stand in favor of wasteful spending?Boehner is from Ohio. The “unnecessary and extravagant” project is headquartered at a General Electric plant in Ohio. The plant employs 7000 people in Ohio. The jet engine project provides jobs to 1000 people in Ohio. Without that project, there will be 1000 more people on the street in Ohio.”We’re broke,” Boehner said on Tuesday. Twenty-four hours later, he said that we’re not too broke to help the workers of Ohio.So let us review: Boehner, who last autumn promised “fiscal discipline,” and who this week shrugged off the prospect of worker layoffs with “so be it,” saw fit yesterday to carve out a convenient exception for his own backyard. In his view, fiscal indiscipline was required to save Ohio workers from the privations that he’s willing to visit upon everyone else.

    In other words, it’s all well and good to voice one’s ideology…until the consequences of the ideology apparently hit too close to home. When that happens, “so be it” magically becomes “say it ain’t so.” (By the way, Boehner said he was fine with government worker layoffs because, in his calculation, President Obama had created “200,000” federal jobs. Wrong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the factual-reality figure is roughly 58,000.)

    Anyway, the engine issue was a no-brainer. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is reportedly the nation’s priciest weapons program. The Pentagon has long been satisfied with the engine that Pratt & Whitney has been manufacturing for the F-35. The Pentagon keeps insisting that it doesn’t want or need an alternate engine (that’s the GE project), even though that engine keeps getting funded. The Pentagon has been making its case to kill the GE project since 2006. Killing it would save $3 billion over the next several years.Boehner, mindful of those Ohio jobs hanging in the balance, contended that if GE was allowed to compete with Pratt & Whitney, a better engine would be produced and more money would be saved in the long run. But the Pentagon trashed his pitch the other day. Many of Boehner’s congressional colleagues did as well; they dismissed his argument as “speculation” and “parochial politics.”Those quotes were uttered yesterday by several conservative members of Boehner’s Republican caucus. In the end, his own party bucked him big time; on the House floor, 110 conservative Republicans voted with 123 Democrats to kill the GE engine project. The rebellious tea-partiers, much to their credit, refused to indulge Boehner’s flexible convictions.How ironic it was that Boehner, the purported enemy of big government, sought to the bitter end to ensure that big government would keep the billions flowing to his home-state workers. And how amusing it was yesterday to watch the tea-partiers save him from his own socialism. They saw his hypocrisy, and they nailed him for it. They will undoubtedly bedevil him further, because they appear to have little patience for ideological inconsistency. As the Greek thinker Aesop reputedly said more than 2000 years ago, “I will have nought to do with a man who can blow hot and cold with the same breath.”——-Elsewhere, in a newspaper column today, I talk about the recent tiff between Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin.

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