The Times editorial erroneously paints a defeatist picture of our nation's space-launcher situation.
The shuttle is and will remain a vital component of our national launch capability, and Vandenberg Air Force Base will be used to launch the shuttle into polar orbits on missions in support of national security and the space station program.
Vandenberg is essential for launching payloads into polar or near-polar orbits that due to weight, geometry or other constraints must be placed in the shuttle. Also, polar-orbiting systems, such as the planned space station platform, are only serviceable by the shuttle. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that the new complementary expendable launch vehicle will be ready by 1989.
As you point out, the American public has made a major investment in the West Coast launch facility, which is the most modern launch complex in the world. Those problems that have been identified at the facility have either been corrected or will be in time for the initiation of shuttle polar-orbit flights. To abandon this investment would be ludicrous.