When do dollars in your district become a national security matter?

I’m not entirely sure how I got on the mailing list for a candidate for VA’s 2nd Congressional District in Virginia Beach but I apparently did. GOP Candidate Kenny Goldman announces that he’s delivered a draft resolution to the General Assembly on the matter of a proposed move by the US Navy to relocate one (or possibly more) of its nuclear aircraft carriers from Norfolk to Mayport, FL. Goldman’s resolution was crafted and delivered because, “Congressman Nye and Senators Warner and Webb have failed to make a cohesive argument against the Navy’s proposed move of at least one carrier to Florida,” says Goldman in the e-mail I received. He continues, “The resolution I delivered to Delegate Robert Tata of Virginia Beach lays out the logical case against the relocation of any aircraft carrier to Florida, and why such a move would be a disaster for national security, fleet preparedness, and fiscal sensibility.”

Fair enough. But it’s resolutions like this one that, frankly, make me cringe when I see a Republican offer them and suggest they’re doing so as a matter of national security. Honestly, folks, I understand full well what they’re trying to do and, as a fellow Virginian, I want to support them. But when you start mixing in hotbutton items of local concern in with the rest of it, you actually wind up diluting the argument. Here’s the resolution, annotated with my thoughts as I read it:

Whereas the recent release of the Quadrennial Defense Review calls for the relocation of a Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carrier from Hampton Roads to Naval Station Mayport, Florida;

Whereas such a move portends the loss of more than one carrier from Hampton Roads;

And? How does Hampton Roads losing a carrier to take care of cause a national security issue for Ohio, or Iowa, or Wyoming?

Whereas the loss of a single aircraft carrier would have a significant negative impact upon the economy of the Commonwealth, to include the loss of a minimum of 10,000 jobs and over one percent of Hampton Roads’ gross regional product;

That’s certainly bad news for Hampton Roads. But, considering that it’d be good for Mayport, FL, how is this supportive of a national security argument?

Whereas the cost to American taxpayers to convert Naval Station Mayport into a port capable of handling a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is estimated to be as high as $1 billion;

Now, there’s an argument. There had better be a compelling reason for the Navy to be doing this, and it better be a helluva lot better than that some Floridian congresscritter managed to squeeze something into a bill during the commitee write-up.

Whereas there has been a troubled history of maintaining conventional aircraft carriers at Naval Station Mayport;

Oh? I’d certainly like to hear more about this. If there’s been issues in competence at Mayport then that’s a real good reason to keep the carriers away from that port. Does the Navy not know about these issues, or do they already know about them and found they’re not as severe as Mr. Goldman thinks they are?

Whereas the move of an aircraft carrier from its industrial base in Hampton Roads would involve increased maintenance costs for the Navy and, thus, an increased burden upon the American taxpayer;

Again, that’s a good argument.

Whereas the proximity of Naval Station Mayport to the mouth of St. John’s River makes it more vulnerable to potential terrorist attack;

More vulnerable than Norfolk?

Whereas no aircraft carrier or any other naval vessel has been damaged by a terrorist attack or manmade disaster in Hampton Roads;

The previous item made it sound as if Mayport hasn’t suffered a terrorist attack, either. For that matter, I’ve not heard of any at San Diego, San Francisco, or any other domestic military port. If none of them have, why is it significant that Norfolk hasn’t?

Whereas no aircraft carrier, conventional or nuclear, has ever been damaged by a hurricane or any natural disaster in Hampton Roads;

That’s an excellent point. Has any such damage occurred at Mayport? Does Mayport have a greater history of getting hit by such events than Norfolk?

Whereas the Hampton Roads area is known as the “birthplace” of nuclear aircraft carriers;

Uhhhh… so? Kitty Hawk, NC is the “birthplace” of aviation. Does that mean the Air Force should only keep our strategic bombers there?

Whereas the Hampton Roads area has the largest navy base in the world, and is renowned for its industrial support capacity and professional workforce;

That’s a good point. Based on the news item I linked, above, it appears that several hundred million will need to be spent at Mayport just to bring it up to the same capability Norfolk has today. That’s definitely something to keep in mind.

Be it therefore resolved that We, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, unanimously call upon the Governor and the Commonwealth’s congressional delegation to take immediate and necessary action to ensure the Navy’s East Coast aircraft carriers remain in Hampton Roads.

I’m curious as to why Golden thinks Gov. McDonnell, the General Assembly, and our Congressional delegation isn’t doing this already? I mean, it’s one thing to note that the Navy hasn’t issued a retraction of their plans to relocate a carrier but another thing entirely to suggest that proves our Congressmen, Senators, and Governor aren’t trying to do anything about. By all means, feel free to ask someone in the GA to submit a bill like this but understand this: it’s not really calling for any specific action to be performed. Which, frankly, makes it sound less like a real resolution and more like someone standing up in a room and yelling, “Do something!” rather than actually doing something.

We Republicans were very successful in the last elections because we appealed to the Virginia voters’ sense that we were interested in getting real solutions enacted to real problems Virginia is facing. We need to stay on that track. I’m not saying this resolution is terrible or that we shouldn’t be fighting to keep carriers based here (I think we should) but we need to be careful about looking like we’re only concerned with bringing the dollars home to our districts while making the argument that it’s all about national security.