Category Archives: Space & Campaign 2004

The Kerry Space Bunny

…just keeps going, and going, and going

Here’s the latest from Florida Today. The Kerry people didn’t just shoot themselves in the unlucky rabbit’s foot on this one. They kept reloading:

Kerry’s campaign team asked for the pictures and helped pass them out to reporters, NASA said. Once the photos surfaced on Web sites and in newspapers, becoming joke fodder for pundits at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Kerry’s campaign got defensive.

The Kerry team hinted at dirty tricks. Campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill said the pictures were not meant to go public.

NASA routinely photographs touring dignitaries and posts them online. Kerry’s group included four current or former U.S. senators. Two of them, Glenn and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Melbourne, flew in space. So there was nothing unusual about publicizing the photos…

…NASA did not elaborate on whether lawyers deemed the Kerry campaign event Monday was an improper use of the Visitor Center. Nor did the agency say how it differed from the ways other politicians have used NASA locations and high-profile space events for political purposes.

It’s wabbit season!

That’s what irritated me about this. There was no “high-profile space event” here. It was simply using a NASA center as a prop to talk about things that had nothing to do with space. It was purely a campaign event, and despite Lori Garver’s flimsy defense of him (and I like Lori), the senator continues to strike me as someone who is as profoundly unserious on the space issue as he is on all others, except for achieving his lifelong dream of being the second JFK.

Just A Stage Prop

I predicted in comments in this post that Senator Kerry would have nothing to say about space policy during his visit to Kennedy Space Center today.

I was right.

Well, at least it’s consistent with the party platform. There is zero evidence that he has any interest in space, and the president’s vision, such as it is, is almost certainly dead if he’s not reelected. At best, it appears that a Kerry space policy would be a return to the Clinton policy, based on the few things that he has said about it. As I said at the time, Democrats who are space enthusiasts are going to face a very tough choice in the voting booth this fall.

[Tuesday morning update]

Keith Cowing and Frank Sietzen have a relevant passage from their new book, on Kerry’s views on space.

What A Shock

There’s no mention of space policy in the Democrat Party platform. It mentions Apollo, but only as an example of how the nation can accomplish great (non-space-related) things when it sets its mind to it. As I noted in a comment there, it’s the old “if we can send a man to the moon, why can’t we solve world hunger?” platitudes.

No shock–there’s been no visionary space initiative on the part of any Democrat president since Kennedy (and I’d argue that even Kennedy’s wasn’t that visionary, since the vision was mainly to beat the Russians to the moon).

I would expect to see the president’s new vision in the Republican Party platform. It would be a monumental screwup, and indicative of its true priority, if it’s not.

Clueless Critics, Revisited

Jeff Foust points out a comment by Paul Spudis at Friday’s RTTM session, to the effect that people who think that the president made his announcement in January for political purposes in an election year are political ignoramuses.

I noted this myself at the time, and even named names of those ignoramuses. (Note that the article at the link says that Dwayne Day was on the Challenger Accident Investigation Board–that was a bit of brain flatulence that I’ve never been able to get Fox News to fix–it should read “Columbia.”)

New Thinking?

I noted a while ago that Kerry’s space policy sounded as though he wanted to return to the nineties. That may still be the case, but Jeff Foust says that there may be some new blood coming into his kitchen cabinet for space:

…one wonders if the briefing on SpaceShipOne may have influenced some of the language in the Kerry campaign’s technology policy released last month that advocates increased use of prizes by government agencies, mentioning the X Prize by name.

If so, a Kerry presidency might not be as disastrous for space policy as I previously feared. Which is not to say, of course, that I’ll vote for him.

Still Interested

President Bush is planning a speech in the next month or two addressing the new space policy (probably after the Aldridge Commission reports in early June).

Sources said Bush has been briefed on the hearings held by the commission and is awaiting its report to help frame his forthcoming remarks. Despite the approaching presidential election, the speech, which will reiterate Bush’s call for advanced human exploration of space, will not necessarily be made “in a political context.”

But you can bet it will be interpreted that way by people who don’t know any better.

Sources said although there has not been widespread support for the space plan since its debut, the president has felt no need to rush to make additional public comments. Bush has remained “highly enthusiastic” about his space proposal and his lack of additional mentions of the idea should not be taken as a cooling of interest, they said.