Last week, space advocates lamented that President Bush said nothing about the Vision for Space Exploration when he had a golden opportunity: the visit by the Apollo 11 crew to the White House on the 35th anniversary of their flight. This week those advocates have something else to sigh about: Democratic Presidential candidate John F. Kerry visited the Kennedy Space Center and said virtually nothing about space, choosing instead to talk primarily about health care. (Perhaps it will be a goal of a Kerry Administration to make health care plans no more complicated than, say, the space shuttle.)
The AP found that Kerry “didn’t once mention NASA”, although he certainly invoked the history of the space program in his talk, saying that Cape Canaveral was no better place to launch something, even, it appears, a health care plan. As Florida Today notes, Kerry and his entourage, including Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and former Sen. John Glenn, got a behind-the-scenes tour of KSC by center director Jim Kennedy. (Although I doubt youíll see photos like this and this show up in Kerry campaign materials in the future.) The Houston Chronicle reported that Kerry’s speech was a “far-ranging but sometimes listless riff on the keywords of his campaign: strength, respect abroad, health care and jobs.” He also talked about energy independence, the Philadelphia Inquirer noted, saying, “The great mission to the moon of today is to make America secure by becoming energy independent – alternative and renewable fuels.” (This should sound familiar to regular readers.)
The oddest comment of the whole day actually came from a Republican, Rep. Tom Feeney, who criticized Kerry for voting against the space station (apparently ignoring the fact that Kerry changed his position at some point in the mid-1990s and started voting to support the station in 1997 and 1998.) He then said, according to WESH-TV in Orlando, that those votes against the station “have harmed Florida’s economy.” Sadly, the station doesnít pursue this point to trace the (il)logic Feeney used to reach that conclusion.