Green Room

The Ignoble Savage: Administration Zeroes Out Return to Moon

posted at 12:54 am on June 15, 2010 by

I’ve always considered a presidential administration’s commitment to manned space exploration an excellent barometer of its belief in the grandeur of Western civilization; its belief in America’s future and exceptional greatness; and its understanding of what Konstantin Tsiolkovsky meant when he said that, “a planet is the cradle of mind, but one cannot live in a cradle forever.” Simply put, an administration that believes in manned space exploration — believes in Mankind.

So it’s hardly a surprise that Barack H. Obama is in the process of killing the Constellation program proposed by (of course) President George W. Bush to return human beings, Americans, to the Moon, this time to stay; to explore lunar science and geology, investigate the origins of our solar system, and exploit the vast mineralogical, energy, and environmental resources found on our nearest neighboring planet.

And it’s even less of a surprise that they’re doing it in a backhanded way, in violation of an act that Obama himself is about to sign into law — while mockingly flouting it:

Constellation aimed to build upon what was arguably America’s greatest technological achievement, the first lunar landing of 1969, by launching new expeditions to the Moon and to Mars and worlds beyond. Mr Obama proposed in February that it should be scrapped because it was “over budget, behind schedule and lacking in innovation”, but he has met opposition in Congress, which has yet to approve his plan.The head of Nasa, Major-General Charlie Bolden — an Obama appointee — has now written to aerospace contractors telling them to cut back immediately on Constellation-related projects costing almost $1 billion (£690 million), to comply with regulations requiring them to budget for possible contract termination costs.

The move has been branded a “disingenuous legal manoeuvre” and referred to Nasa’s inspector-general for investigation. “It’s bordering on arrogance by the Administration to boldly and brazenly go forward with this approach. It shows a blatant disregard for Congress,” said the Republican Congressman Rob Bishop, of Utah, whose constituency stands to lose thousands of jobs. Two weeks ago the Senate passed legislation that compels Nasa to continue work on Constellation unless Congress directs otherwise. That legislation is due to be signed into law by Mr Obama this month while Congress continues its deliberations over his proposal to cancel the current space space progamme.

Why is Obama doing this? What is his goal? I believe the Times of London has hit upon the answer without even realizing it, as the answer controverts the received narrative of the Obamacle:

Distinguished space veterans, including the first and last men to walk on the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan, have complained that the abandonment of Constellation will set America’s space capabilities on a “downhill slide to mediocrity”. They say that, while Mr Obama has outlined a vision for Nasa that includes sending people to Mars at some point, it lacks a concise plan for developing the rockets and spacecraft to get them there.

“The Administration has no planning, no programme and no idea — they’d just have these things happen mysteriously,” Mr Bishop said. “Rockets aren’t something that Wal-Mart puts on its shelves. You have to have a plan for how you get from A to B, and Obama has just said we’ll work it as we go along and maybe some day we’ll end up on an asteroid or the Moon or somewhere. The bottom line is, those ‘maybes’ will never happen.”

In my estimation, the simple, obvious explanation is correct: Obama does not believe America is in any way “exceptional”… nor even that it should be. He believes Americans (not citizens of the world, as he is) are arrogant and imperialistic “little people” who need reining in. This can only happen under a strong central government headed by (who else?) the Philosopher King.

Americans’ ambitions are too grandiose and range too widely; we need to humble ourselves. Fly to the Moon? Land humans — Americans, yet! — on Mars? How dare we!

This is hubris of the highest order. The president must show the whip hand every now and then in his job of Shepherd in Chief to keep his flock tame and hobbled. Baa, baa, baa.

In Mark Steyn’s genius takedown of the Obamunist — the best anyone has ever penned, says I — he commits a nigh-Twainian epigram:

It is hard to imagine Mr. Obama wandering along to watch a Memorial Day or Fourth of July parade until the job required him to do so. That’s not to say he’s un-American or anti-American, but merely that he’s beyond all that. Way beyond. He’s the first president to give off the pronounced whiff that he’s condescending to the job – that it’s really too small for him and he’s just killing time until something more commensurate with his stature comes along.

At the end, Steyn fingers Obama as the current leader of “a cult of radical, grandiose narcissism;” but the writer need only source “the One We Have Been Waiting For” himself to prove his claim.

A legendary and probably apocryphal tall tale has it that an ancient emperor tried to obliterate all documents that mention a national history predating himself, in the hope that future generations would believe he personally created civilization, culture, and perhaps the very world. It may be truer today than in any ancient realm, for I believe Barack H. Obama would prefer the future historians take literally his messianic claim that:

[G]enerations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.

There we have it: A grandiose narcissist who sees himself as simply too big for America’s britches must be horrified by a program of manned space exploration, the consequences of which threaten to overwhelm his own meagre achievements, assuming one can find any, in a Noachian deluge of science, technology, and future shock. Indeed, if we indeed returned to the Moon on a permanent basis, using that as a stepping stone to Mars and the rest of the solar system, then that would likely be the only thing anyone would remember, “generations from now,” about the administration of Barack Obama. Only our next faltering steps into the universe beyond; all else would be sucked down the memory hole, along with yesterday’s horoscope.

How could a creature like Obama possibly live with such a rival without scratching her eyes out?

Cross-posted on Big Lizards

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Liberals love spending money. Their antipathy toward NASA is one thing I just don’t get. Somebody should remind them that their sixties hero John F Kennedy the USSR was an enthusiastic explorer of space.

joe_doufu on June 15, 2010 at 1:39 AM

Is it maybe that NASA isn’t unionized?

joe_doufu on June 15, 2010 at 1:39 AM

There was a ‘townhall’ meeting on the NASA channel last night, a townhall of well educated scientists and administrative bureaucrats talking about NASA’s new mission to develop technology.

The focus of the meeting were the programs, and the process, with only an off hand mention of goals. This programs partners with that program, this process, that process, and where do the scientists fit in. They’re scientists, and administrators/managers, you see, not engineers. They are making discoveries, and managing the processes, you see, not mere builders of things.

Oh, and they are all willing to fail, now, because failure is necessary when you are dreaming big dreams.

Skandia Recluse on June 15, 2010 at 8:14 AM

Everyone read the Mark Steyn article, it’s brilliant.

This is the only analogy that makes sense for cutting NASA; because it shows America’s exceptionalism…. and we’re not supposed to be exceptional, just like every other country.

itsspideyman on June 15, 2010 at 8:25 AM

I think it’s more simply the fact that NASA is not part of any liberal interest group, and right now the Democrats need all the money they can to be diverted to reward their interest groups and maintain their support for future elections.

Sackett on June 15, 2010 at 9:39 AM

I think Dafyyd has it nailed for a whole lot of post-modern transnationalist narcissists

A grandiose narcissist who sees himself as simply too big for America’s britches must be horrified by a program of manned space exploration any advancement in civilization, the consequences of which threaten to overwhelm his own meager achievements, assuming one can find any…

They are, and want to remain, comfortable in their current status, and a society that allows opportunity for accomplishment means their status is at risk from those who actually accomplish things. The bottom line of all their agendas is to secure their own position, and seal off their status from any potential rivals.

LarryD on June 15, 2010 at 10:58 AM

“Uncle Jon, I wanna be an astronaut someday!”

“Gonna have to move to another country if you want to do that, kiddo.”

Yet another dream we’ll have to give up on for quite some time if not forever.

A nation that can’t even concieve of reaching for goals just beyond its current grasp is a nation that will soon fall apart at the seams.

Dark-Star on June 15, 2010 at 11:29 AM

I read this and am reminded of how Ayn Rand described her experience at the launch of Apollo 11 and contrasted that with the emotionalism and hedonism of the Woodstock concert.

It’s a long lecture, but interesting.

catmman on June 15, 2010 at 11:55 AM

It’s ironic. Liberals so desperately want people to believe in big government, and finding examples where big government has performed as well as (if not better than) advertised are extremely rare. Yet one of those rare shining examples is NASA during the Apollo program, when they met an exceptionally ambitious goal (landing man on the moon before the end of the 60’s) even while overcoming a disastrous setback (the Apollo 1 fire).

Given the small cost of the space program relative to even pre-Obama budgets, you’d think the liberals would set more goals for NASA and fully fund them if for nothing else than to have an advertisement for the virtues of big government. Their failure to do so may be the one silver lining in their cloud of neglecting space exploration.

thirteen28 on June 15, 2010 at 1:09 PM

I think liberal distaste for programs like the space program is more than shedding light on their lack of achievement. I wonder if liberals dislike things like the space program because it reminds people that there might be something out there bigger than humanity. When we begin to think something might be bigger than humanity, today’s liberalism is revealed as the egocentric power grab that it is.

Minimally, things like the space program make people wonder and think. Today’s liberalism relies on a complacent ill informed populace. They cannot afford for many to wander outside of their narrow definition of how the universe works.

My 2 cents.

Duncan Khuver on June 15, 2010 at 1:53 PM

In his speech tonight, Obama said that if we can put a man on the Moon, we can do alternative fuels. But we can’t put a man on the Moon anymore.

zmdavid on June 15, 2010 at 11:17 PM

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