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April 27, 2004
FactCheck.Org Missing Expertise on Defense Matters (plus "Captain Ed" Defined)

FactCheck.Org, run by the Annenberg Foundation, normally does a pretty good job of providing a balanced look at the controversies of the day and applies logic and facts instead of volume and hyperbole. However, in the case of FactCheck's defense of Kerry's own defense record, they made a monumental goof that deserves a solid response:

It is true that when Kerry first ran for the Senate in 1984 he did call specifically for canceling the AH-64 Apache helicopter. What the ad lacks is the historic context: the Cold War was ending and the Apache was designed principally as a weapon to be used against Soviet tanks. And in fact, even Richard Cheney himself, who is now Vice President but who then was Secretary of Defense, also proposed canceling the Apache helicopter program five years after Kerry did.

The short answer to this is that there was a huge difference between 1985 and 1990, but fortunately I received an e-mail from a reader who spent a lot of time both in the military and in the defense industry who can give the more detailed response. Duane from MnKurmudge & DCKid is a long-time CQ reader whose 19 years in the latter outstrips my 3+, but I can vouch for his accuracy in his vehement response below:

The comparison with Cheney is almost worse, and reveals these people as having rotten egg on their collective face.

It is because of two things: first, in 1990 the Cold War was effectively ended and Cheney was presiding over the drawdown and decommissioning of significant pieces of the force structure. Back in 1985 there was no such prospect on the horizon; we were still preparing militarily for an apparently viable USSR, and Kerry proposed shutting down the most important Army combat aviation asset right in the middle of the Cold War- if that doesn't reveal his flawed and anti-military view, I don't know what else would show it better, other than marching through Lafayette Park with his old V-VAW "Band of Brothers" (the real B-O-B shouldbe insulted by the terminology when associated with the Senator) and urging that all weapons be beaten into love jewelry (we don't do plowshares any more).

Second, this example shows that the writers have no idea how the DoD appropriates funds and runs their programs, and has no interest in finding out before waxing eloquent and self-righteous on the subject.

There is a huge difference between cancelling a program in FY90 (which would be Aug 89) and FY85 when Kerry wanted to kill the Apache. By FY90, the Army had built at least 50 to 100 more Apaches (at an assumed, for lack of budget history specifics, production rate of 1 or 2 per month) than they had in 1985, so the likely revised procurement objective would be about complete at that point. Generally, the argument would be over whether to keep a warm line at a minimum sustaining rate or let the line go down and just provide spare parts.

Make sure you read his entire, detailed rebuttal to FactCheck's sloppy analysis.

One last item: Duane made a reference to me being "a military guy," and my nickname certainly could give that impression. My original Typepad blog had an explanation of the origins of "Captain Ed", but here it is again so I don't mislead people by mistake ... It's a nickname bestowed on me by a former girlfriend during a time in my life when I was a huge Star Trek fan, and had named my first car the Carship Enterprise, and had bought a license-plate frame with that on it. For a birthday gift, she got me a set of personalized license plates that read CPTN ED to fit within it.

Well, I thought that was pretty cool. In fact, I liked it so much that I transferred those plates to every new car I bought until I moved to Minnesota, when I finally decided enough was enough. The old plates, which outlasted my Star Trek passion by several years and the girlfriend by even more, are in my office at home. By that time, I had used the nickname on the Internet for years on e-mail, newsgroups, listservs, and blog comments. When I set up my own blog, it seemed natural to call it "Captain's Quarters".

So keep in mind -- the Captain has more in common with Daryl Dragon, the Captain from Captain & Tenille, than he does with the brave men and women serving now or in the past in our nation's military; it's just a nickname. However, that analogy doesn't sound too terrific in a week where we're all debating the worst hit songs ever ...

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 27, 2004 5:24 PM

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