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John Kerry On The F-22

The senior senator from Massachusetts, who was one of the more interesting players in the Obama/Gates-Senate showdown over the fighter jet program, released a statement today explaining his decision to side with the White House and against parochial interests:

Months ago, the Massachusetts Air National Guard conveyed to me their concerns that their aging aircraft will compromise their ability to complete their mission in the future and I've also had a longstanding concern about our industrial capacity in Massachusetts in the event that funding for important technologies is interrupted.

I called Secretary Gates last week and yesterday we had a productive discussion in which he assured me of three key and persuasive facts: that the Pentagon’s shift in resources and priorities will have no adverse affects on Massachusetts workers whose skills are transferable from the F-22 to the F-35, that there will be no shortage of planes or equipment for the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s mission, and in fact that production of the F-35 could generate additional jobs for our experienced workforce.

I understand the Pentagon’s need to reorganize its resources and I take Secretary Gates at his word that our state will not be harmed in the process. I was also persuaded by the arguments made by the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the former Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee that additional F-22 aircraft are unnecessary. For those reasons, I decided to support the Levin Amendment, and will remain vigilant in ensuring the needs of the Massachusetts Air National Guard are always met in policy planning.

Does Kerry really think the needs of the Massashusetts Air National Guard are so critical--especially when Gates is pleading that the national interest requires an end to the F-22 program? Somehow I doubt it. This is all about the jobs. But good for Kerry that he took the high road here.

--Michael Crowley