It is sad to see some who think that the F-35 defines the Marine Corps; or STOVL for that matter.
Since the F-35 will not be able to take on emerging threats, what the USMC is in the market for is a reliable second-tier fighter.
USMC has around 9 or so Harrier squadrons and another 15 or so Hornet/EA-6 squadrons.
The USMC can make some cuts and come out more powerful and more "joint" by retiring the Harrier now and convert the money wasted on the F-35B and put it into 2 seat, Block 2, Super Hornets.
So the flat-top amphibs only end up with helicopters/MV-22s. Big deal. If anything that will be an improvement on air ops by not wasting resources on a handful of STOVL fighters.
Many can't imagine a real war where there isn't a big nuke carrier supporting Marines on the ground. Same goes for long-range bombers and the USAF in-general. Also, a Marine amphib group by itself is dead meat against a real air threat.
With 15 or so F-18F and EA-18G USMC squadrons, you would have an aircraft that helps out the Navy for the carrier air wing numbers and gives the Marine some excellent support.
Fast response CAS? Answer: GPS/INS rocket artillery and attack helicopters. Something the USMC already has.
I will finish to remind some about the myth of STOVL for the U.S. We could do a war and never miss it.