President of All the Planets

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The news about the collapsed bridge in Minneapolis and the search for those missing brings memories of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. At one point during the chaos on the Gulf Coast, former rock-and-roll great Fats Domino was missing and feared dead. Eventually, the legendary "Fat Man" was found alive and well, one of the few bulletins of good news to come out of New Orleans during that unhappy time. I wonder if that will be among the "achievements" highlighted during the next Republican National Convention.

"During the administration of George W. Bush, we FOUND Fats Domino!" Yet the heavily biased mainstream, or "drive by," news media have never given Our Maximum Leader credit for that.

President Bush is said to be working on his "legacy" these days. He seems to be taking a roundabout route — as though the road to the Bush Memorial in Washington, D.C. runs through Baghdad, or maybe Teheran. Whatever. Bush is in it for the long haul and will do whatever it takes.

In New Hampshire there is a long-standing joke about a farmer who, asked for directions to some out of the way place, tells a visiting motorist, "You can’t get there from here!"

It really is a joke, friends. There are no inaccessible parts of New Hampshire, but there are a lot of places to which there is no direct route. You have to go around a lake or cross a bridge in the next town. You can "get there from here," but you have to go somewhere else first.

It’s that way with the space program. We have heard much in the past few decades about the scientific discoveries that have been made and the inventions that have come about as the result of space travel. True, space suits with internal plumbing may have limited mass marketing potential, but think of golf ball aerodynamics, portable coolers and programmable pacemakers for the heart. They are all, NASA tells us, "spinoffs" from the space program. And the theory is the more space travel we undertake, the more useful inventions we will have as a byproduct of those adventures.

It is a roundabout, extraterrestrial route, best described by David Stockman, President Reagan’s first director of the Office of Management and Budget. The idea, said Stockman, is that the way to build a better mousetrap is to go to Jupiter.

And, of course, academics are interested in anything that combines discovery with government grants. And what fits that description better than our multi-billion dollar a year space program? New Hampshire is proud to have been the home of the first teacher in space, Concord High’s Christa McAuliffe, who perished along with her fellow astronauts in the Challenger explosion of January 28, 1986. Another teacher is now scheduled for a space flight and will, we may all hope and pray, have a much safer, more successful trip. Meanwhile, the state’s legislature remains under a ten-year-old mandate from the Supreme Court of New Hampshire to come up with a constitutionally equitable plan to fund public education statewide. Perhaps the answer to that dilemma is somewhere in the stars.

It may be that answers to our national and even international problems are "somewhere out there" as well. Charles Krauthammer, the esteemed neo-conservative columnist, recently noted with approval that President George W. Bush, bless his interplanetary heart, has “committed us to going back to the moon and, ultimately, Mars.”

Earlier, less imaginative generations of Americans labored under the illusion that we must work out the solutions to our worldly problems here on earth, unaware that the answer may be on Mars. Even in the heyday of anti-communism, during the much-maligned "red scare" of the 1950’s, it never occurred to Sen. Joe McCarthy or the House Committee on Un-American Activities that our nation’s security required on invasion of the red planet.

Other, more pedestrian presidents have had as their goals freedom and prosperity for our country and peace on a single planet — ours, no less. But President Bush, has a grander vision, based perhaps on his father’s "thousand points of light." This president is committed to the defense of the moon and Mars.

When Bush first started talking about Mars, the joke was that maybe that’s where we would find those elusive "weapons of mass destruction" that we were unable to find in Iraq. Now it’s beginning to look like the president wants to go to Mars to find the cherished legacy of achievement that has eluded him here on earth. Yes, friends, future generations of Republicans will be able to point with pride to the glorious achievement of America AD (Years of "Dubya").

"He saved Mars from the terrorists."

Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny [send him mail] is a freelance writer.

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