A national debate?

An editorial in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution criticizes the House of Representatives for approving NASA authorization legislation last week that includes language endorsing the Vision for Space Exploration. The AJC’s complaints cover the usual ground, primarily that we can’t “afford” the VSE because of the huge budget deficits, Social Security and Medicare shortfalls, and the like. Ho-hum.

At the end, though, the AJC endorses a proposal put forward by Rep. Barney Frank during the floor debate on the bill: “There ought to be a national debate, he [Frank] said in published comments, ‘about whether or not to commit these untold billions . . . at the expense of other important programs.'” Wait… isn’t what has transpired over the last 18 months been a national debate? There’s been a lot of back-and-forth since the VSE’s introduction about its merits, from hearing rooms on Capitol Hill to the editorial pages of papers like the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We’ve had the debate, and, at least for now, the supporters of the VSE have won in Congress. What more debate does Rep. Frank, or the AJC, want?

16 comments to A national debate?

  • I’d fork over an additional 15 cents a day if it will solve social security and terroism.

  • Nick B

    What Frank wants is as much debate as it takes to discredit the Bush-initiated program and therefore the President himself. Nothing more than partisanship. What do you want to bet that Frank would support it wholeheartedly if (a) a Democrat president had proposed it, and (b) it resulted in more jobs in his district?

  • Actually, I doubt it. Frank seems to toe nobody’s line but his own.

    — Donald

  • Frank is absolutely correct that there hasn’t been any meaningful debate, but Jeff Foust is correct that Frank doesn’t want one either. What we have had is 18 months of national head-scratching. Even NASA can’t decide what the VSE really is — the Griffin VSE is turning into something completely different than the O’Keefe VSE. And you can expect the VSE to be upended again before the story ends.

    The real national debate was much larger and simpler than the idle editorial musings about the VSE. It was the national election, in November. The preponderance of the voters trust Republicans. Since the voters have no strong opinion about the nebulous VSE, the Republicans can do what they want. And few Democrats have any reason to make an issue of it.

  • Greg: “And you can expect the VSE to be upended again before the story ends.”

    I expect that no greater truth has ever been written!

    — Donald

  • The AJC is my local paper and everyone here hates it. The only purpose it serves is a wrapper around the coupon and garage sale sections. In this case the debate AJC would like to see is one where everyone to the right of Cynthia McKinny (aka The Cutest Little Communist in Congress) resigns and appoints the AJC editorial staff in their place.

    You will go far in life doing exactly the opposite of whatever stance the AJC takes.

  • Mike Puckett

    Or as Neal Boortz calls it, the Atlanta Urinal-Constipation.

  • Cecil Trotter

    Greg: “And you can expect the VSE to be upended again before the story ends.”

    Donal: “I expect that no greater truth has ever been written!”

    Oh Please.

    VSE upended?? Lets see the VSE was orginally about returning to the Moon, planning to go to Mars and other missions beyond that. So how has the basic scope, idea, or dare I say VISION of the VSE been “upended”?

  • Okay, Cecil, correction accepted. However, I believe that Greg was talking about the method for getting there, and in that I expect he is correct.

    We’ve been here before. The Space Station as a goal has stayed relatively constant, but the purpose and method for getting there were “upended” on a regular bases. While I support many of the changes I see, Mike Griffin is in the process of doing that right now.

    — Donald

  • Oh, the VISION will never change. It’s like Constantine’s Vision of the Cross. Who can quarrel with a heavenly vision?

    (Little did Constantine realize that his cross in the sky actually represented the space station.)

  • Well, yes, the idea of human beings going forth and multiplying across the Solar System is and should be a “heavenly vision.” I don’t see anything wrong with “Moon, Mars, and Beyond” as an inspirational goal. That is, after all, how many of us got into this business in the first place.

    As usual, the devil is in the details, and that, of course, is what we’re all arguing about!

    — Donald

  • Cecil Trotter

    Donald: “I believe that Greg was talking about the method for getting there, and in that I expect he is correct.”

    But then the method of getting there was never cast in stone during O’Keefe (nor should it have been) so of course at such an early stage the method should still be in flux. Otherwise the detractors would say they’ve already decided the method prior to considering all methods available.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    Barney Frank wants there to be a debate that will go on forever. The problem is that people have been talking about interplanetary exploration and space settlements since long before I was born. It is past time that words become deeds.

  • So then it’s a good thing that Steidle was hired and then fired? I guess NASA was just considering alternatives.

  • Cecil Trotter

    Kuperberg: “So then it’s a good thing that Steidle was hired and then fired? I guess NASA was just considering alternatives.”

    LOL. Another “man of straw”.

    Steidle was hired by O’Keefe and Griffin decided he wanted soemthing else. I’m sure you think Griffin invented the idea of a new manager bringing in people he wants, but I assure you he did not.

  • TORO

    We had the chance for a national debate between the two presidential candidates in the 2004 elections.

    I think the only bi-partisan point that is not debated and agreed upon is that politicians in general fear the pre-Columbia space station overrun and Apollo era spending spike NASA. I think they fear that “not-right-stuff-dollars culture” may be hard to change.

    Thus perhaps the NASA VSE should be simple: NASA learning to live to a fixed budget, year after year after year … What would JFK say to the challenge of NASA living to a budget? Perhaps “We do not do these things because they are easy, but becasue they are haard, very haard.”