Chicago Rules

Have you noticed the strangely heavy outbreak of bad F-22 news recently? The timing is convenient for F-22 foes; they face a do-or-die Senate vote this week, so any negativity is welcome. The bad news started Thursday, when USMC Gen. James Cartwright, JCS vice chairman, told a Senate panel about a new Joint Staff-led study—heretofore unknown—validating DOD’s plan for 187 F-22s (not 243, USAF’s requirement). Next came a punch from US theater commanders; as General Cartwright told it, they didn’t want more F-22s as much as they wanted more EW versions of the Navy F/A-18. On Friday came a tiresome Washington Post gut job, titled, “Premier US Fighter Jet Has Major Shortcomings” (more on which below.) Among the story’s sources: “confidential Pentagon test results,” “Pentagon officials,” “internal [Pentagon] documents,” “The Defense Department,” “a Defense Department critic of the plane,” “other skeptics inside the Pentagon,” “Pentagon audits,” “two Defense officials with access to internal reports.” Hmmm. Do you think DOD might have planted this story? Others have watched this spectacle and drawn their own conclusions. Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb on Friday posted a story noting how Pentagon leaders have been spanked by Congress on the F-22 recently. “So what does the White House do?” asked Goldfarb. “It goes on offense.” It’s what happens when you are not winning the argument on the merits.