The San Francisco Chronicle has some positions on space policy from the presidential candidates.
Sen. John Edwards: “I am a strong supporter of our space program. It reflects the best of the American spirit of optimism, discovery and progress. A manned mission to Mars is in the American tradition of setting ambitious goals for exploring space, but we must be able to pay for the program.”
What does that mean? Sounds like he’s saying it would be a nice thing to do if we can afford it, but he doesn’t know whether we can, and it wouldn’t necessarily be a priority of his to find a way to do it. And of course he focuses on the mission to Mars, with no hint of an understanding of broader issues or purposes.
This isn’t a statement that’s going to gather any significant support from the space activist community (not that it’s an important voting block). He’s just trying to avoid taking an actual position.
Sen. John Kerry: “Our civilian space program represents a great
opportunity for scientific research. Sending a person to Mars is a great mission worthy of a great nation like America. Given the Bush budget deficit, it is imperative that we balance funding for a manned mission to Mars against critical domestic needs as well, such as education and health care.”
Again, hardly a forthright declaration of intent, and again, the focus is on sending someone to Mars. And again, no sophistication or nuance, or indication of an understanding of the issues.
Also, it betrays either a fundamental ignorance of budgetary matters, or disingenuousness (you can guess where my money would be), because it implies that the budgets for space, and education and health care are somehow comparable, and that there is a scale on which we could place space on one side, and the social programs on the other, and it would be roughly balanced. The reality, of course, is that you could pay for a mission to Mars with a single month’s expenditure on those other items, and get a lot of change.
You could fund an invigorated space program with a tiny fraction of the education and health budgets, but if you took all the funding going into federal space activities and put it into education and health, it would hardly be noticed.
Both Kerry’s and Edwards’ statements are empty motherhood, but Kerry’s seems more cynical to me.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: “An International Space Station in Earth orbit is a far more practical launch platform than a base on the moon. So, if we as a nation decide to send manned missions to Mars, I would not support construction of a lunar base. In regard to space exploration, we are faced with an unprecedented national deficit and a war without end, both of which will force this nation to abandon many hopes, dreams and aspirations, including space exploration, if allowed to continue.”
I actually like Kucinich’ position better. It seems much more honest.
I don’t agree with it, and he’s technically wrong, but it looks like he’s actually given the matter some thought, in the warped mindset in which he lives, and he actually has a position. It sounds as though he’d actually try to fund something (albeit at the expense of the Pentagon budget).
Al Sharpton: No response.
No surprise. No disappointment, either, except that he might have said something amusing.
President Bush: No response.”
No need for one. He’s on record as of January 14th what his space policy is.
From a purely space policy standpoint, I think that George Bush is the best candidate. His policy’s not perfect, but it’s a vast improvement over that of Clinton, and either Kerry or Edwards would be likely to return to a more Clintonesque policy, with emphasis on jobs and international cooperation, and a lack of interest in actual accomplishments. To the degree that the president’s policy is a good one, they can almost be counted upon to reverse it simply because it’s his, and there’s nothing in either of their stated positions here to indicate that their replacement would be an improvement in any way.