Back when I was flying aboard Navy P-3s, we spent most of our time tracking Soviet submarines. We would detect, locate, and then track Soviet nukes as they transited to and from their patrol areas. We were very, very good at it and typically a crew would spend four to six hours on station doing passive tracking to a passive attack. This meant that we would lay a pattern of sonobouys and then track the sub by its own noise; i.e. passively, in that the sub did not know we were there. During the time on station we would make multiple attack passes at the sub and simulate dropping a torpedo down their chimney. On a good flight we could get multiple simulated kills. This was an enormously complicated and tiring but wonderfully satisfying way to spend the flight.
The most delicate time came when one aircraft was to depart on station and be relieved by another P-3. This is called a “hot turnover” in that the arriving aircraft had to have started monitoring the sub on its own gear and begun tracking it before the departing aircraft was out of sonobouy RF reception range. If all went well, the turnover was a success. But if someone dropped the ball and the sub went “cold,” the new crew would have to reestablish contact by itself and without giving away its presence. It was a lot like being tossed a hot potato right out of the oven; you tried to catch and juggle it for several moments until it was cool enough to handle comfortably. Otherwise you dropped it. In war, this would be a disaster.
With the Democrats’ winning of Congress they are the oncoming crew for a hot turnover. They grab at the hot potato at a time when the Dow is at historic highs, unemployment is at historic lows, our military is the world’s unchallenged super power (despite John Kerry’s noxious mouth), and we have not been attacked at home for five years while thwarting at least two other pending major attacks (a claim the rest of the world cannot make). The Democrats now grab at the potato despite their admission that they have no idea how to juggle it, but rather, feel that “the public wants a change.” A Navy crew trains together for years toward the common goal of winning in war. The new Democratic Congress can best be described as an angry gaggle with no idea how to catch the potato, let alone juggle it successfully. Without a 2/3 majority in either house, the Democrats cannot pass any law that Bush and the Republicans dislike. A 51 seat majority in the Senate is meaningless against the Senate’s cloture rules (esp. as regards judicial appointments). The Democrats’ pencil-thin majority in Congress will serve only to let them cause trouble unless they have real ideas on how to handle problems. Back in the day, if a P-3 crew dropped a hot turnover, the price was an embarrassed crew, a potential enemy vessel no longer tracked, and an unhappy commanding officer. Today, if the Democrats drop their potato, the price is likely to be a catastrophe. We eagerly await news of the Democrats’ plan for success.