“Although the MSM [mainstream media] has largely ignored Barack Obama’s plans for NASA, the issue is likely to bubble up during the general election campaign, if he’s the Democratic nominee,” claims Lee Cary in an essay in American Thinker, a right-leaning online publication. Cary never really explains why he believes this will happen: after all, while space got more attention that some might have expected during the primary season, it never became a major topic (outside of, say, Brevard County in Florida). In a general election between Obama and John McCain, it’s hard to see space getting much attention, particularly given the increasing concern about the economy (in particular food and fuel prices), the ever-present debate about Iraq, and so on.
Cary largely rehashes what’s been previously said about Obama, including his pledge to delay Constellation for five years to help pay for his education programs. Cary then cites the campaign’s quasi-official space policy where Obama pledges to “support the development of this vital new platform [the Orion CEV] to ensure that the United States’ reliance on foreign space capabilities is limited to the minimum possible time period.” “Now is that in human or dog years?” is Cary’s rejoinder, one of a number of parenthetical, italicized comments littered throughout the document in an apparent effort to be witty. Cary doesn’t note, though, that this “reliance on foreign space capabilities” (aka “the gap”) is going to be an issue for whomever is elected president.
A more balanced analysis comes from Rand Simberg in a PopularMechanics.com article. He examines what the three campaigns (Obama, McCain, and Hillary Clinton) have said to date on space, and how the facts back up (or don’t) their rhetoric. No clear winner emerges. “For voters already behind NASA’s targeted human spaceflight, don’t get your hopes up—none of the three major candidates are likely to fund the current plan, because they’ll all face the budgetary pressures implied by an aging population and a burgeoning federal deficit,” he writes. “So perhaps the real question to ask McCain, Clinton and Obama is not what they’re going to do for NASA, but whether they’re going to come up with a more innovative federal space policy overall.”