Campaign '04

The AP polls the candidates on space

The Associated Press, as part of an ongoing series of articles on various issues of the 2004 presidential campaign, asked the major candidates if they supported plans to send humans back to the Moon by 2020. The sound bites published in the AP article aren’t terribly informative: both Kerry and Edwards offer general support for the space program, but caution that the costs of sending humans to Mars must be balanced against other programs. Kucinich went into a little more detail, preferring to focus on the ISS rather than lunar exploration. (Neither Sharpton nor Bush responded to the AP’s question, but I think we know where the President stands on the issue…) Those who have been reading this weblog for a while, or read my article in The Space Review back in January, will not find any revelations in this piece. Alan Boyle of MSNBC also discusses this AP article in his Cosmic Log weblog.

3 comments to The AP polls the candidates on space

  • Bill White

    Edwards and Kerry’s positions strike me as very different. From the article:

    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.”

    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.”

    = = =

    Kerry says we must balance space programs againt domestic needs and does not emphasize the intangible benfits of space for our national character. Edwards says going to Mars continues what is best about America, yet we need to be able to afford it.

    The Edwards statement strikes me as entirely consistent with a Bush plan calling for slow sustainable program without massive budget increases.

    Unless space advocates work to bring Democrats aboard a bi-partisan vision, space policy will not be sustainable through political transition.

    Praising Edwards for his statement would be a good start. Then, work on Kerry through pro-space Democratic Senators.

  • Jeff Foust

    Bill,
    I think you’re trying to divine a distinction between Edwards and Kerry that, in practice, doesn’t appear to exist. The gist of both candidates’ statements is that, while they may support the “space program” in principle, they want to balance any spending for it with funding for other programs. In previous comments Edwards expressed some lukewarm support for the president’s initiative, but balanced it with comments like “what he’s doing is diverting attention from the problems that we have here at home” (http://www.spacepolitics.com/archives/000040.html) and “real issue is what are we doing to address the problems that people face here every day in their lives?” (http://www.spacepolitics.com/archives/000031.html). I don’t see Edwards as being significantly more in favor of the Bush plan (or other, similar initiatives) than Kerry.

  • Bill White

    Jeff, I am not saying you are wrong. You are not wrong. IMHO, your comments are simply not, well, useful. :-)

    Space policy needs to be de-politicized not hyper-politicized.

    Its like arguing with your wife about where to go out for dinner. Telling her she is wrong just isn’t helpful unless you are a PromiseKeeper.

    Democrats and Republicans are divided 50/50 in America and that won’t change soon. Hand wringing domestic policy loving liberal opposition to humans in space cannot be defeated by insults. It only makes the red/blue divide more entrenched.

    Space policy will not affect the 2004 election. Gay marriage might. Bush will win or lose for reasons unrelated to his January 15th speech about going beyond LEO. More importantly, none of the “good stuff” in the Bush plan actually happens until after January 2009.

    Therefore, it is more important to know what Bill Frist or Orrin Hatch or Bill Richardson believes about space exploration because its the next President who will most influence when (or if) we return to the Moon by 2020.

    IMHO – - whenever any Democrat appears to offer any opening to support humans beyond LEO and Edwards did say doing so is “in the American tradition” those sentiments needs to be encouraged.

    Further, space advocates must work with pro-space Democrats like Bill Nelson of Florida to help play the Washington hardball needed to create broad based support for a vision that cannot be fulfilled until after President Bush is long retired.