Unlike some of my colleagues in this space, I’m not particularly exercised about the F-35 issue. I just don’t think it’s going to make that much difference, and there are far bigger items on the political agenda.
That said, my goodness, Governor Shumlin’s little Florida junket was a complete waste of time and the GBIC’s money, wasn’t it? The best he can hope for is that this event will be quickly forgotten. It certainly won’t change anyone’s mind, and it displayed one of Shummy’s less endearing political quirks — his inability to appear plausibly concerned with the opinions of people who disagree with him.
So he goes down to Florida with a bunch of F-35 supporters and two journalists — Terri Hallenbeck of the Freeploid and Kirk Carapezza of VPR. And how do these reporters show their appreciation? They take pictures of him palling around with junket bankroller Ernie Pomerleau, and wearing big ugly headphones whenever he’s anywhere near those Air Force whisperjets.
And what’s worse, they report some of the stupid stuff the junketeers had to say.
Shumlin said when he first saw the plane, “Wow.”
“I’m shocked at how quiet the F-35 is,” Shumlin said afterward.
Shumlin tells Pomerleau there’s only one thing that could convince him that the noise between the two jets is appreciably different: “If I can’t hear you on the flight home!”
Ba ha ha, he used the same joke on Paul Heintz last week.
“Volume – seems to me – is about the same. But don’t forget the F-16 is not using the afterburner. You crank that afterburner and I bet you that the F-16 is louder,” Shumlin says, standing on the tarmac.
So the F-35 might be louder, except when the F-16 is. Brilliant.
And finally, best of all:
“The noise issue should not hold us back from embracing the F-35,” Shumlin says.
(Quotes #1 and 2 from the Freeploid; others from VPR.) Summing it up, then: the Governor came down with “open ears” but wouldn’t change his mind unless he was deafened by the F35, his evaluation of the noise was laughably transparent, and finally, he says the noise doesn’t matter.
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger joined Shumlin in elevating his own foot and inserting it between his lips. Freeploid:
Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, who came as a supporter of the jets, went away unchanged. “It’s a different sound,” he said. “There was not a dramatic difference.”
Winooski Mayor and amateur audiologist Mike O’Brien, the only F-35 agnostic on the trip, performed a scienterrific evaluation of the noise with his iPad. Which unfortunately showed the F-35 blasting 114 decibels to the F-16’s 101. (Decibels are logarithmic units, so a difference of 13 dB is quite substantial.) And then he proceeded to make excuses: the F-35 may have seemed louder because it flew closer to him. And,
“They’re both loud,” O’Brien said afterward.
Of the F-35’s sound, he said, “It didn’t blow my socks off. It’s a deeper sound. It’s really hard to compare the whole thing this quickly.”
In other words, the whole thing was pointless.
Our thanks to Mayors Weinberger and O’Brien for their invaluable public service, and our best wishes to the Governor on his Italian vacation.