Romney Taunts Chinese on Space, Basks in Obama Administration’s Accomplishments

Mitt Romney. (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Mitt Romney was campaigning earlier this week in Florida, where he made some rather cryptic remarks about America’s space program that might be attributed to an overly tight necktie had he been wearing one:

“I’ve got a promise for you guys. There are better days ahead when we get a better leader in Washington. This is still the greatest nation on Earth. I know there are people around the world who are always critical of America, have something negative to say, say our greatest days are in the past. Baloney. We just won more Olympic medals than any other nation on Earth. You also just saw we just landed on Mars and took a good look at what’s going on there. And I know the Chinese are planning on going to the Moon and I hope they have a good experience doing that and I hope they stop in and take a look at our flag that was put there 43 years ago.”

Now, let’s go through this step by step.

“I’ve got a promise for you guys. There are better days ahead when we get a better leader in Washington.”

Presumably you. So, what are you going to do? How will you provide better leadership? Specifically in space?

“This is still the greatest nation on earth. I know there are people around the world who are always critical of America, have something negative to say, say our greatest days are in the past. Baloney.”

So, you’re going to make us feel better about how things are…now? A bit unorthodox, but hey, I’ll buy that. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S…

“We just won more Olympic medals than any other nation on Earth.”

Yes we did! We got 104 medals and beat the Chinese in every medal category. Despite an economic meltdown. And with a supposely “socialist”, Kenyan-born President ruling in Washington. How the frak did that happen? Well, who cares? U-S-A! U-S-A!

“You also just saw we just landed on Mars and took a good look at what’s going on there.”

Isn’t that awesome? NASA’s on a roll, man. So’s the Obama Administration. Oh, I’m feeling much better now. U-S-A! U-S-A!

“And I know the Chinese are planning on going to the Moon and I hope they have a good experience doing that and I hope they stop in and take a look at our flag that was put there 43 years ago.”

Oh, zing! That gets them where it hurts: their failure to win a moon race 50 years ago that they were never in. U-S-A! U-S-A!

I don’t get this at all. Romney tells us we need better leadership, then makes us feel good about accomplishments that occurred under the sitting President. These seem like words that Obama would speak during a campaign rally, not some “unemployed” politician who’s been running for President for the last six years.

But, it sounds vaguely familiar. Remember how he took “a lot of credit” for the success of the auto bailout when his sole act was to write an op-ed piece in The New York Times? He did nothing elso, but was perfectly happy to bask in the glow once it was clear that the bailout had worked.

Romney doesn’t go nearly that far here, but it’s strange that he would be touting the Administration’s successes that he had nothing to do with while campaigning to throw the current government out on its ear.

And what’s his plan for space? Watching the video, I’m feeling pretty good about the country and the space program. And I have no idea what Romney’s space policy would be, much less why I would vote for him.

Confused as well? Luckily, Romney’s Florida campaign office issued a statement that cleared things up:

“Governor Romney will provide the clear, decisive and steadfast leadership the space program requires. As president, Romney will bring together leading officials, researchers and entrepreneurs to establish clear goals.”

So, he’ll tell us what he’s going to do after we elect him to the most powerful office in the land. I’d be tempted to call this guy an empty suit, but in the video of this speech, he’s not even wearing one. A stuffed white dress shirt? Yeah, that sort of works.

Rep. Paul Ryan

Matt Reed over at Florida Today has a different theory. He believes that we can determine Romney’s space policy based on his selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. Ryan has put forth a budget plan that would radically cut federal spending in an effort to balance the budget. This is what Reed thinks it would mean for NASA:

The Ryan plan would cap spending on science, space and technology at today’s levels (about $30 billion) for a decade. That’s generous compared to cuts of up to $100 billion per year to other “nonsecurity” spending, the document shows.

NASA would chug along with development of its massive moon rocket, updates at Kennedy Space Center, a new space telescope, privatized flights to orbit and robotic missions to Mars. Then, something — probably the rocket — will blow its budget and fall behind schedule, forcing the space agency to cancel something else.

My guess: NASA’s climate research.

[…]

The Ryan plan contains no mention of government “investment” in technology to encourage growth — unlike President Barack Obama’s budgets, rejected twice by the House. It focuses instead on cutting tax rates to encourage private-sector investment in technology and scientific breakthroughs.

But national defense remains a perfectly appropriate function for the federal government, according to Ryan, Romney and other conservatives. The Ryan plan would grow military spending by up to $100 billion per year over the next 10 years.

[…]

To sell space to other Republicans, [Florida Rep. Bill] Posey and [Sen. Marco] Rubio would have to continue to frame the moon rocket and other projects as critical to defense — not as an investment in science and technology. Already, Posey touts space as the “military high ground” in every stump speech.

So, basically this means a flat civilian space budget, continuation of budget busting projects like SLS, attacks on vital climate change research, no emphasis on government funding R&D, and a blank check for the Pentagon whether we’re actively fighting a war or not. And that doesn’t even include cuts in social spending.

Reed’s theory may be accurate. However, in typically Romneyian fashion, the man at the top of the ticket is distancing himself from aspects the Ryan budget. As he told 60 Minutes’ Bob Schieffer:

Schieffer: There’s no question your campaign has been trying to make this election a referendum on Barack Obama. Now, some people are saying you are making it a referendum on Paul Ryan’s budget plan.

Romney: Well, I have my budget plan, as you know, that I’ve put out. And that’s the budget plan that we’re going to run on. At the same time, we have the record of President Obama. If people think, by the way, that their utility bill has gone down, they should vote for him. If they think jobs are more plentiful, they should vote for him.

So, why did Romney pick a running mate whose main claim to fame is a budget beloved by conservatives (and feared by most everyone else) that you’re not even going to follow? Does Romney’s candidacy even have a point to it?