Taking the low road

We’re back from a week of travel where we had no access to the Internet and one of the first things we saw was the news report about “Alabamians to Build American Tankers” and their radio ads blasting Boeing for its original scandal in the tanker program and connecting it to the re-compete for the USAF aerial tanker.

There is no getting around the fact that the competition is where it is today because of improprieties of the 2001-2004 tanker award. But Boeing’s Jim McNerney, in one of his early acts as the new CEO, stepped up and authorized a fine of more than $600 million to settle this scandal and the Lockheed Martin trade secret theft case, and declined to take the tax deduction that was permissible because it wasn’t the right thing to do. These two actions are one reason we continue to have great respect and regard for McNerney’s leadership.

Thus, with Boeing having settled this matter, it should not be an “issue” in this competition, factual history notwithstanding.

We’ve often been critical of Boeing’s PR, advertising and political lobbying campaign over the tanker competition. We’ve thought that the campaign was ill-advised and sometimes distorted and had no place in the competition. We’ve also repeated called on Boeing and Northrop Grumman to tone down the rhetoric or ideally stop altogether. This “Alabamians to Build American Tankers” is a new low in this entire competition.

The pro-Boeing site Tanker War Blogs has a good synopsis and has some information about who’s behind this trash.

4 Comments on “Taking the low road

  1. I agree completely that the previous ‘difficulties’ are not germane to the current situation.

    I visited the faux (see http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/graham-warwick/2008/03/in-the-tanker-war-beware-bogus.html) blog that you referenced and find it, and the never-ending and unsubstantiated innuendo posted there no less vile -and perhaps even more so- than the referenced ad.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, but noting the ‘pot’ is ‘calling the kettle black’ should also come with the recognition that it IS the pot, the VERY black one, that is doing the calling.

  2. He does mention it is a Pro-Boeing site – I think there is a very real need for an impartial perspective on the competition. I noticed NG in a press release mentioned SH in one of their releases last week, and from that perspective It’s good to see SH calling it like it is.

    But you are right, I certainly wouldn’t choose the Boeing tanker wars commentary to be pointing the finger in all of this, for the reasons you mention. Im not altogether convinced that the RFP was totally ripped up and re-written for the current contest from that earlier scandal.

    But I can’t seem to find commentary on the liklyhood of to this effect, and Loren Thompson has been confusing over the past few months in various statements.

  3. We pointed to Tanker War Blog because the folk there had already done the job of linking to articles that ID’d who was behind the ads, saving us the trouble.

    We agree that sometimes TWB is over the top (in our view), but then some think our observations fall into this category, too. TWB does a good job of linking to relevant stuff, such as House bills, commentaries and articles, and even though we are opposite sides of the fence on the fundamentals, we find their links to be particularly useful.

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