"The commonest error in politics," said Lord Salisbury, "is sticking to the carcass of dead policies."
Lord Salisbury's rule comes to mind on reading of John McCain's delight at the $40 billion contract awarded the French-led parent of Airbus -- to build the next generation of U.S. Air Force tankers.
The contract could run to $100 billion and is a body blow to Boeing in its duel to the death with Airbus. Two-thirds of all air-to-air refueling tankers are used by the United States. The contract gives a 30-year lease on life to the expiring Airbus A330 and means early death for Boeing's 767, the U.S. model for the tanker.
Congratulating himself for having exposed corruption in the Boeing bid, McCain purred, "I have always insisted that the Air Force buy major weapons through fair and open competition."
If McCain thinks Airbus has prospered through "fair and open competition," he is beyond recall. In its first 25 years, Airbus sold 770 planes but did not make a dime in profit. It was started as a socialist cartel, subsidized by the governments of Spain, France, Britain and Germany, to invade and capture a market owned by Americans who built the planes that won World War II.
Airbus drove Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas out of the business of commercial aircraft and almost took down Boeing. And like indolent buffalo munching grass as they are shot one by one, we let it happen.
Lost U.S. jobs should not be our primary concern, said McCain, "I've always felt the best thing to do is to create the best weapons system we can at minimum cost to taxpayers."
But if McCain thinks cost trumps all in building weapons of war, why not outsource the building of U.S. carriers, cruisers, destroyers, frigates and submarines to the foreign shipyards that constuct America's merchant ships? Why not hire and train foreign sailors as crews?
Why not outsource the scores of thousands of U.S. government jobs handling Social Security checks and tax returns to Bangladesh and India? After all, the neocons want to hire foreign mercenaries to fight America's wars and reward them with U.S. citizenship, as the Romans did in the last days of the empire.
What does it mean to be an American anymore?
It took 20 years to wake up blockheaded Republicans to the social insanity of open borders. Only the collapse of his candidacy last summer jolted McCain into realizing that the 80 percent of Americans who reject amnesty and want a border fence are not all "bigots," as his Tonto, Lindsay Graham, said they were.
Is it going to take 20 more years for Republicans to awaken to the economic disaster they have created and the political ruin they are inviting with this fanatic faith in "free trade," while the rest of the world loots our country through mercantilism?
When Europe imposes a 15 percent value-added tax on U.S. imports and rebates the VAT on exports to the United States, that is not free trade. When China devalues its currency 45 percent, as it did in 1994, and bolts it down to suck jobs and factories out of the United States, that is not free trade. When Japan manipulates its currency, preaches economic nationalism to its people, and shelters its market for TVs, autos and steel, while dumping into and capturing ours, that is not free trade.
McCain admits to knowing almost nothing about economics and is now being advised by my old friend Jack Kemp. In a Wall Street Journal essay bemoaning my views, Kemp concedes, "I'm on the advisory board of Toyota North America and now drive a hybrid Lexus."
Nor is Jack the only pol who has found happiness in a foreign employ. Ex-secretaries of state and Cabinet officers, ex-senators and congressmen, and ex-White House aides are getting rich working for foreigners who are carting off American jobs, American technology, American markets, American factories -- and America's future.
Yet retribution may be at hand for our multinational GOP. In Ohio, NAFTA is a five-letter word with a four-letter meaning, as Ohio lost a huge slice of the 3.5 million manufacturing jobs that vanished under the McCain-Kemp-Bush policy of unilateral disarmament in the trade wars being waged against America.
Look at the Bush-McCain record: $4 trillion in trade deficits, $2.5 trillion in manufactures alone. One in every six manufacturing jobs, 3 million, gone. With America borrowing $2 billion a day to pay for foreign goods, we have seen a collapse of the dollar, the price of gold quadruple to $1,000 an ounce, oil soar to $107 a barrel and gas heading toward $4 a gallon.
Where Bush has created an average of 46,000 new private-sector jobs a month, Bill Clinton did five times as well, creating 220,000 a month.
Hillary won Ohio denouncing the NAFTA deal Bill Clinton cut. The lady gets it. McCain remains a loyal NAFTA man. Good luck in Ohio and Michigan. As the Great Peer said, "The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies."