Right to the moon! Why not, America?

Published 12:03am Sunday, January 29, 2012

Last week Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich stunned many Americans with his best Ralph Kramden impression.

“One of these days … Right to the moon!”

Only Gingrich wasn’t feigning frustration with his wife like the big-talking, but big hearted, star of the 1950s TV sitcom “The Honeymooners” often did.

No, Gingrich’s moonshot talk wasn’t in jest; he was serious.

Gingrich, campaigning in Florida, a state with clear, deep interest in any space exploration talk, suggested this week that the nation push to establish a colony on the moon and send a manned craft to Mars.

He suggested all could be done by the end of his second term — a bit presumptuous, but such is the nature of the people who tend to run for president.

Yet, even for self-aggrandized political candidates, the idea was, well, pretty lofty.

Gingrich’s high-soaring ideas were at once inspiring and also mocked as being completely ludicrous.

His comments seemed far-fetched to some. Republican challengers mocked him at a GOP debate later in the week.

But in some ways, his comments seemed a little refreshing.

Sure it’s possible he’s just pandering to voters in the state with the most to gain if the U.S. renewed its interest in space.

But his comment also points out something that is woefully missing in America right now — a vision of returning our country to greatness.

Four decades have passed since we last stepped foot on the moon. It’s difficult to imagine that mankind simply put a check in the box for “moon landing” and then moved on to something else.

It’s easy to look back on our nation’s history and think, “When did we stop caring, when did we stop pushing the envelope and when did we stop leading the world?”

Four decades ago, we put men on the moon with technology that would now be laughable by today’s standards.

Then America managed to make space travel routine with the Space Shuttle for 30 years. That program ended last year after President Obama said the program lacked a clear vision.

He’d previously said Americans should send a person to Mars and bring him back to earth by the mid-2030s.

Obama’s space vision wasn’t greatly different than Gingrich’s. Newt simply wanted to push the limits a bit and dream a little sooner.

All of the fluff over Gingrich’s space colonization plans may make for good political fodder, the question is: Why not invest in the space program?

Doing so may be better than blindly throwing money at car manufacturers or banks that chose to take risky investments, as America did at the height of the financial crisis.

Most space and aeronautical jobs traditionally have been American jobs. Gingrich’s space folly may seem comical to some, but it may wind up being among the most realistic jobs programs on the table at the moment.

Even Ralph Kramden knew to let the momentary reaction get fully vented first before calmly thinking through the issues and realizing sometimes our gut reaction isn’t accurate.

 

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

  • Anonymous

    Love the progressive thought, however…. could we shoot for consumer owned solar rooftops on 1,300,000 homes and small businesses first? Various technologies have appeared, and can be utilized with very strategic timing. It is doable now. Maybe, just maybe, there will be enough jobs created, that in turn create an installation that gives 1,300,000 consumers and small businesses extra income every month, that will be spent to further accelerate the economy. Electric cars and bike batteries will be charged with sunlight in lieu of gasoline. More money in the consumer’s pocket to further stimulate the economy.
    Clean air for our grandchildren? Lots. Pulling troops out of the oil price protection racket in the mid east. Done.
    What is it about the moon that will positively affect more Americans, than solar rooftop PV spread widely among our citizenry? Quit trying to distract America from attainable goals at home, instead of sending their dreams 240,000 miles away. Quit treating the moon like a quarter on the floor that you and your friend see. Whoever sees it first gets it? Or whoever grabs it. Who gets it?

  • Anonymous

    While I think Gingrich is a much better debater than Romney, I disagree with this ideal he has.  I see absolutely no value to ferrying back and forth to the moon and the massive expense, whether prublic or private money, to make that happen.  If the whole moon wer actually swiss cheese (or other valuable minerals), the value to bring it home will not offset the cost to do so.  Establishing a colony for habitation purposes is futile since it does not solve the problem if earth no longer exists  Whatever the destiny of the earth, so goes the moon since it is a satellite of earth.  Scientists are looking for another earth “lookalike”, but it wont be doable in our lifetime..

  • Anonymous

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/We_choose_to_go_to_the_moon

    I’m sure that after that speech, many Americans felt the same way that you do.

  • Anonymous

    I most whole heartily agree with both oldsouthgent and electric38. The moon statement as I see it is the fact although such action my be unatainable within the next few years it is proof that Gringrich has hopes, dreams for America that at one time we all had. A looking forward once again of the undeniable great strength of America that has wilted in the minds of this great nation. Anyone who would mock, laugh at that dream is not showing the love for America they should have in their hearts for this land I so truly love and very proud to be one of it’s citizens.

  • Anonymous

    Pandering for the space coast votes.  The politicians revise their message to cater to the audience – do you thiink he really meant it?  Maybe Romney can change his message to make us think we could all be multi millionaires if he is elected.  That would probably buy more votes than going to the moon.

  • Anonymous

    I believe he thinks it can be done.  Newt is kind of a science geek and it doesn’t surprise me that he endorses such an endeavor.  Granted, I am biased because I would like to see more done in space.  Once great NASA has become a politically correct lampoon of its former self.  What Kennedy said of the space program is still true today.  My first heroes were astronauts and the world is woefully lacking in such these days.  Perhaps instead of every other kid wanting to be a rock star, rapper or football player, some might actually become interested in aeronautics, astronomy and engineering.

    Was he pandering?  Absolutely.  That doesn’t necessarily mean he was being disingenuous and it certainly doesn’t mean its a bad idea.

  • Anonymous

    Last week Cooper admits to a “space walk” through an aldermen meeting (though who could blame him), now he drinks the Eye of Newt potion.

    A Daffy Duck cartoon comes to mind, several, in fact. 
     

      

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com Kevin Cooper

    OK, now that’s funny. :)

  • Anonymous

    Gingrich also said that we can not only colonize the moon but make it the 51st state. How looney is that! The focus should be on unmanned space vehicles that can do as much or more at a fraction of the cost.

  • Anonymous

    Worked for obama!!

  • Anonymous

    Always nice to exhibit a sense of humor…even at one’s own self.

  • Anonymous

    Now THERE is the absolute TRUTH

    Obama didn’t hang his campaign on a four letter word like “M-O-O-N”…nope…he only promised “H-O-P-E” and another word….”C-H-A-N-G-E”  And we’re all stuck hoping that his policies can be changed.

  • Anonymous

    Sure hope enough folks feel that way. if not we are ruined..It would take at least 30 years to get back to where we were.

  • Anonymous

    The money spent to bail out green energy co.s that have since gone bank-rupt would have went a long way on that project you mentioned.

  • Anonymous

    How ’bout this for a new, far-reaching dream the public can get behind?  Before the end of the decade, we will quit spending more money than we take in. That ought to return us to earth.

    But I admit, it’d just be a hell of a lot easier to just colonize the moon.

  • Anonymous

    How would the mexicans get there to cross the border illegally?

  • Anonymous

    Most of Gingrich’s dreams are wet ones.  Ask his last two wives.