Tuesday, January 13, 2004

HEY MOMMA EARTH, BETTER BRING ME BACK DOWN, I'VE TAKEN JUST AS MUCH AS I CAN. "Military victories in Iraq and Afghanistan have made America safer, and tax cuts have made us all richer," says Brendan Miniter, "so Mr. Bush didn't have to promise the moon to win in November. But now that he has, it's up to the Democrats to prove they're not lost in space."

This is the sort of thing a right-wing hack might get away with were jobs were plentiful and peace at hand, but when the economy is stuck like an SUV in quicksand and the terror alerts keep a-comin' despite the allegedly epochal Saddam capture ("Terror alert level lowered but nation must stay vigilant, Ridge says"), it seems rather strange.

Small wonder: OpinionJournal's resident Western-Civ scold seeks to portray Bush's space jam as a "shrewd political move."

How so? Because this plan "has allowed the president to seize the mantle of John F. Kennedy by embracing a visionary project." (Amazingly, Miniter is not the only one to make this comparison: "Both [Kennedy and Bush] were elected in a year ending in '0,'" notes Rand Simberg with interest, and adds, "(while this one hasn't yet been borne out for Mr. Bush, it's looking increasing likely) both led a realignment that made their party the national majority for years to come," suggesting, among other things, that Simberg believes he can see into the future as long as he appeases the gods by briefly switching, within magic parentheses, into a whole new tense.)

Such a bold, not to mention (if polls are any indication) groundless, assertion needs proof points, even in so forgiving a venue as OpinionJournal, so Miniter offers a f'rinstance -- the Bush plan has "potentially tremendous benefits for senior citizens":
Humans can lose more than a quarter of their bone mass just by spending a few months in space. And they often do not fully recover once they're back on Earth. It's similar to, although much faster than, the bone loss old people experience. Solving this problem could advance the quality of life for millions of Americans.
We start with bold dreams and Camelot, and end up with a medical study of the sort that recruits participants on the back page of the Village Voice, only with cool rockets and gizmos and a multi-billion-dollar price tag.

They ain't making vision like they used to.

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