Campaign '08

Putting Obama’s speech in perspective

While Barack Obama’s speech in Titusville, Florida was big news there, and in the close-knit space community, outside of it the speech was ho-hum. The Washington Post published an article Sunday with a Titusville dateline but only wrote that Obama “talked of protecting Social Security, funding space and ocean research, dealing with the threat posed by climate change and getting a home-cooked meal.” Other major papers, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal, published nothing about the speech, although both the Times and the Journal mentioned it in passing in blog posts.. reported on a press conference Obama held in Cape Canaveral Saturday morning but focused on offshore drilling (another example of energy trumping space?). did devote a blog post to the issue, alongside John McCain’s meeting with a Puerto Rican reggaeton star.

But then, the campaigns aren’t paying a lot of attention to the issue, either. Obama’s Titusville speech is, as of Sunday evening, not yet posted in the speeches section of the campaign web site, although there is a blog post about the speech, including a YouTube clip of the relevant section, online. The McCain campaign finally posted its press release reacting to the speech by late Sunday, a day after its release.

10 comments to Putting Obama’s speech in perspective

  • Al Fansome

    It is interesting reading these links.

    The RNC and the McCain campaign seem more intent attacking Obama’s space policy position rather than offering something up of their own (and saying why their position is better.)

    Considering that McCain has strongly criticized Obama on energy for not being “for” something, I am thinking that the McCain campaign now needs to come up with a REAL space policy position.

    Hopefully Senator McCain would put even more emphasis on private industry and commercial space.


    – Al

  • Ross

    Sadly the lack of comment makes sense though, because NASA’s entire annual budget only represents 0.58% of Federal discretionary spending.

    Why do we expect it occupy a greater percentage of public comment?

    I’d *love* space topics to make up even just 5% of the debate and resulting press coverage, but I do realize that that isn’t actually going to happen :(

  • Mark

    “Hopefully Senator McCain would put even more emphasis on private industry and commercial space.”

    How is it considered “private” and “commercial” space if you expect government funding? If its not about funding, then I don’t see how a candidate’s policy matters, since I don’t see either candidate banning private companies from trying to go to space.

  • Mark, name the private transportation company, let alone industry, that does not except government money in some form or another. The American myth of private transportation is largely fictional, though I would be all for it if it were actually to occur. I doubt most people would be, since the “private” automobile would almost certainly be beyond most peoples’ financial reach if it were.

    Given that all transportation (with the possible exception of the freight railroads, if you ignore their past) is government subsidized, candidates opinions on how that is done obviously does matter.

    On a related subject, in light of the latest depressing news from SpaceX, maybe we should be thinking of what our strategy is if spaceflight with chemical rockets really is too expensive and / or hard for semi-commercial, entrepreneurial companies to achieve. . . .

    — Donald

  • Oops, that should be accept, of course.

  • S.R.

    Indeed, when I hear people decry public funding for Amtrak, I never hear them mention the gargantuan taxpayer-funded subsidies that are enjoyed by the airline industries in the form of airport construction and upkeep, the air traffic control system, and many other things.

  • Mark

    Actually, Most FAA funding comes from ticket and fuel taxes. So someone who doesn’t fly really doesn’t pay much in taxes to help the airlines. Only users of the national airspace system do.

  • Al Fansome

    MARK: How is it considered “private” and “commercial” space if you expect government funding? If its not about funding, then I don’t see how a candidate’s policy matters, since I don’t see either candidate banning private companies from trying to go to space.

    Substitute “energy industry” for “space industry”.

    Senator McCain is willing to commit to giving the energy industry huge government incentives and subsidies because energy is a national priority.

    At Senator McCain’s website here

    … you will see that Senator McCain has …

    1) proposed a $300 million prize for to promote innovation in private/commercial industry energy technology

    2) Commits to invest $2 Billion annually to subsidizing one energy industry niche (clean coal) technology.

    3) Will aggressively push a second energy industry niche — nuclear energy.

    4) Will establish a cap & trade system, which will be a HUGE federally-mandated subsidy of all clean energy industry companies.

    In other words, Senator McCain has already established that he is willing to heavily subsidize private industry, when he thinks it is important.

    The only question at hand is whether Senator McCain thinks the private space industry is important.

    – Al

  • spectator

    The issue isn’t whether which candidate is purer on the evils of government intervention its what the candidate will do when they have power. I have a hard time thinking of a single significant private endeavor where government money isn’t flowing. I do have an easy time imagining what McCain or Obama would do with Nasa’s goals and execution or with private access to space.

    Obama has shown himself to singularly uninterested in the nuts and bolts of policy, in short he is no Bill Clinton on that score. He has done little in terms of hearings during his one full year in the Senate while he as been a subcommittee chairman(campaigning during his 2ed years doesn’t count). The fact he has a huge standing army of advisors leads me to believe he’ll follow political expediency in his early years of office. So I assume Nasa won’t get a vision such as VSE from Obama, instead he’ll have his standing army of advisors masticate proposals into pet projects that in essence payoff his supporters.

    McCain is singularly interested in the nuts and bolts of policy and has demonstrated he has firm views on policy issues. Witness Boeing and the tanker war. I do expect he’ll take interest as President as he’s done as a Congressman by challenging programs and pork. I do expect he’ll support the VSE, because he has while in the Senate, but expect Nasa to perform well on cost. Given his past history, programs that get out of control with costs, will face termination.

  • Someone: This is not intended as a defense of Mr. Obama (or an attack on Mr. Bush, for that matter), but it is worth noting that Mr. Bush had even less interest in policy that Mr. Obama, yet he came up with the VSE, which I consider the single best thought out and most important space policy post-Apollo. Unfortunately, later neglect of his own policy is rapidly turning that into the same kind of disaster as most of this Administration’s products. The “big picture” was outstanding; the execution (the detailed “policy”) is very likely to prove a failure. Let us hope that Mr. Obama picks someone skilled in “nuts and bolts policy” as his VP candidate.

    — Donald

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