Busy Bolten Will Continue GOP Grip-and-Grins

Al Kamen
Monday, April 24, 2006

Sometimes they don't give the new guy a chance to settle in before they throw him into the fray.

So there's brand-new White House chief of staff Josh Bolten , working his tail off, getting in around 6:15 a.m., leaving after 10 p.m. most every day since he took over the job a week ago. He's also decided to fulfill engagements he'd agreed to while in his old job at the Office of Management and Budget.

He's even continuing grip-and-grin duties at Republican fundraisers. Our invite from Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) to attend the GOP's Leadership Circle PAC's "Spring Celebration," notes it's "with special guest The Honorable Joshua B. Bolten."

The PAC wants folks to pony up $5,000 for the chance Thursday night to hang with her and other members of Congress, such as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Tenn.). Then on Friday, after a breakfast chat with party strategist Mary Matalin , and 20-minute briefings from Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other Republicans, Bolten is the guest speaker for lunch.

After lunch, he'll probably have to get back to work moving around the deck chairs.

How to Pop Open an F-22

What do you do when the canopy on a new F-22A fighter jet doesn't open and the pilot is trapped inside for five hours?

Get out the chainsaws.

That's what maintenance technicians at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia did a couple weeks ago after calling Lockheed Martin Corp., the plane's manufacturer, to find out how to free the pilot.

The cost of a new canopy: $182,205.

"Since the American taxpayers have already spent billions of dollars on the F-22, our servicemen and women shouldn't need a chainsaw to get out of the aircraft," said Nick Schwellenbach , an investigator for the Project on Government Oversight, which posted pictures of the incident on its Web site.

An Air Force spokesman said the canopy problem was a first for the base's 25 F-22A's, planes originally designed to provide air supremacy in a war with the Soviet Union over Europe.

"Something like this is an anomaly . . . part of the growing pains" of a new weapons system, the spokesman told our colleague Charles Babcock. A Lockheed spokesman said a fix has been found and is being implemented.

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