While Rick Santorum lambasts Newt Gingrich for his recent promise to establish a permanent American base on the moon by the end of his second term, The Daily Caller’s Will Rahn has fun spotlighting one of Newt Gingrich’s past brilliant brainchildren, an idea for a project contained within the pages of his 1996 book “To Renew America”:

“Why not aspire to build a real Jurassic Park?” Gingrich asked on page 190 of the book, adding in parenthes[e]s that such an achievement “may not be at all impossible.”

“Wouldn’t that be one of the spectacular accomplishments of human history?” he continued. “What if we could bring back extinct species?”

In fact, Gingrich argued in the book that we have quite a lot to learn from the works of authors like Arthur C. Clarke and Jules Verne, and despaired those contemporary storytellers like Michael Crichton didn’t have the imaginations necessary to inspire Americans.

“Somehow we must reintegrate the scientific with the popular and reconnect the future to the present,” he wrote. “This is less a job for scientists, engineers, bureaucrats, and administrators and more a job for novelists, moviemakers, popularizers, and politicians.”

Gingrich says that as a boy he was taught by science fiction to believe there was “a whole universe waiting to be learned and explored” and that, having grown older, he still believes “this positive vision of my childhood was the right one.”

Apparently, Gingrich also thought space honeymoons would be a fact of life by 2020. It’s very easy to make fun of these kinds of over-the-top ideas or to argue that they only lend credence to critics’ portrayal of Gingrich as “unpredictable,” “erratic” or “grandiose,” but, actually, this whimsical side of Gingrich is the Gingrich I like best. While, for the most part, he should leave his science fiction fantasies out of his public policy-making (they sound inordinately expensive!), he shouldn’t be penalized for stretching the limits of imagination or for calling on culture-brewers to perfect a recipe for inspiration. In many ways, we’ve become a prosaic, horizontal society. To call for a little poetry and verticality isn’t to be crazy; it’s to remember that life is more than material.

At any rate, it’s pretty safe to say that Gingrich isn’t quite the same person he was when he wrote the book in 1996 anyway. At the time, he dedicated it to his ex-wife, “Marianne, who made it all worthwhile.”