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?

 

  • JohnHunt

    Our best hope for a Romney administration is that they’ll cut the SLS as wasteful but instead direct that money to areas that are proving successful. I would say that would mean full funding for the current commercial programs, a Lunar COTS program and I would also give Mars science and outer solar system more money. Also perhaps other technology development. This would be consistent with a fiscally conservative balanced with a national greatness approach. But I can’t be certain that this concept will be even thought of.

  • JohnHunt

    I should point out that, whereas Romney is the devil we don’t know, Obama is he devil we do know. Although he did not support a monster rocket initially, he gave in to Congress who wanted the pork. So, the Obama administration will likely support the SLS for four more years lest a reversal of a previous decision be made out to look like a failure. At least with Romney there is at least some chance that the SLS will be killed. Now, given that Griffin is on his space advisory committee, I don’t expect that to happen. But it. Kuls depend a great deal upon who is on Romney’s panel of experts and to what extent those individuals will recognize something like a Lunar COTS program being a viable alternative to the SLS for BEO development and HSF.

  • national defense remains a perfectly appropriate function for the federal government, according to the Constitution
    FTFY

    An Act to provide for research into the problems of flight within and outside the Earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes.
    “Vital climate research”: also known as “other purposes”. Yes, NASA should keep shoveling money at “other purposes” in the face of flat budgets. Develop that focus on non-core mission areas, especially things that have no near-term benefit to the tax-payers. I’m really glad they spend that money on climate research instead of providing the nation with reliable access to our really expensive manned orbiting laboratory.

    “Flat civilian space budgets” and “no emphasis on government R&D”, oh dear! I hear Conservatives eat Vegan babies for breakfast and slash the tires on any Prius they can find too.

  • “So, he’ll tell us what he’s going to do after we elect him to the most powerful office in the land.”

    That’s pretty much true for every candidate. Space policy depends less on the man at the top than on his advisors — and the advisors during the campaign have, at most, a small overlap with the advisors who surround the President when he takes office.

    A smart candidate will know there’s a reboot coming, once his A team is onboard, and avoid saying anything too specific that limits their options.

    Obama was a bit too specific early in his campaign, requiring a reboot before the election when Lori Garver came onboard. Then, there was a second reboot after he took office. Still the same basic pattern, though.

    Newt Gingrich broke from that pattern, and the results were not positive. I don’t expect anyone else to go the Newt route.

  • Paul451

    “say our greatest days are in the past. Baloney. […] I hope they stop in and take a look at our flag that was put there 43 years ago.”

    43 years ago. AKA “in the past”.

    Re: Cancelling SLS.
    There’s more support in Congress for SLS than anything else NASA does. It ain’t getting cancelled, no matter who is in the Whitehouse. With Obama, we have a fair expectation that he’ll try to protect Commercial Cargo and Commercial Crew so there’s at least some launch capacity no matter how badly SLS fails. With Romney, it’s likely he’d allow Congress to kill Commercial Crew/Cargo, to cut NASA’s budget but retain SLS (to retain support from SLS-supporting Congressmen.)

  • Skamp_X

    The tech stuff , the rest of the world respects the USA
    the war crap, noone wants it
    im from europe , and tbh, the only intellectual person going for president is Paul, but , he aint got the haircut or age for it ,so go with whatever.
    The others make no sence whatever, neither does obamma, fake promises , no delievery
    Bad times coming up, power corrupts , to many ppl have power these days
    Last chance, Paul would earn respect across the globe , all otheres are viewed as muppets

  • reader

    After reading the headline only, i was sure its going to be something like “I fart in your general direction!”

  • Burke Burnett

    If Romney is elected (which is looking a lot less likely now that he stuck himself with Ryan), it’s not yet clear what we can expect for America’s space program. But if Mitt’s speech is any guide, it will be based more on jingoistic demagoguery than sensible science and engineering.

    http://bit.ly/MB9MUQ

  • RS

    “Basks in Obama Administration’s Accomplishments”????

    Mars Science Lab was planned, funded, and FINISHED during the Bush administration.

    The Obama administration accomplishments for Curiosity were holding a contest to name it and not cancelling the program.

    Your headline should have read: “Basks in the Bush Administration’s Accomplishments”.

  • By your calculation, we’re still basking in the Bush Administration’s economic accomplishments three years later. He pretty much FINISHED off most of the economy by the time he left office. And we were lucky to avoid a 1930’s style Depression.

    Getting to your specific point, Nixon was able to take some credit for the success of the moon landings even though most of the work had been done earlier. It’s not unusual for a government to take credit for things begun under a previous one.

    It is highly unusual for a candidate to do so. And that’s the real point here. Why would Romney be basking in any of these achievements? Because he’s spent the last six years “unemployed” and running for President? Because he ran the Salt Lake Olympics, he can somehow lay any claim to what our team in London did? Because his wife and horse competed?

    Regardless, I feel that Romney is running for Consultant-in-Chief rather than President. There’s far too much of describing his stellar resume and the political process by which he would solve whatever problems we have. (I’ll bring everyone together and we’ll figure something out.) It’s lame.

  • jazzfiend

    Doug,

    You are obviously one of those people who think Obama is the messiah and walks on water. I think that Obama is the worst excuse for a president that we have ever had. He makes Jimmy Carter look good. I do not like Mitt Romney all that much but as he is clearly the much lesser of two evils he will get my vote.

    Since politics is highly divisive and there are a great many people with strongly held political opinions I would highly suggest that you avoid posting things that are politically sensitive in nature and could result in more useless arguements about politics. I come to this website to get the latest news on space not for political arguements. Please try to rein in your strongly held political views. If I want political arguements I will go to MSNBC or Fox.

  • I think Obama walks on water?

    No.

    There is a deliberate strategy by the Romney campaign to not talk in specifics:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/17/romney-adviser-campaign-specifics_n_1797570.html?fb_action_ids=3244921896011%2C3244919815959%2C10152061195840217%2C3244812053265%2C3244649769208&fb_action_types=news.reads&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map={%223244921896011%22%3A10152046786660077%2C%223244919815959%22%3A10152016679910635%2C%2210152061195840217%22%3A10151964968515506%2C%223244812053265%22%3A10151012289381936%2C%223244649769208%22%3A10151334063938508}&action_type_map={%223244921896011%22%3A%22news.reads%22%2C%223244919815959%22%3A%22news.reads%22%2C%2210152061195840217%22%3A%22news.reads%22%2C%223244812053265%22%3A%22news.reads%22%2C%223244649769208%22%3A%22news.reads%22}&action_ref_map=[]

    So far, putting Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s ticket hasn’t led to any detailed plans for his top issue, the budget. That won’t change, according to a Romney aide who spoke to Politico.

    “The nature of running a presidential campaign is that you’re communicating direction to the American people,” a Romney adviser, who is not named, told Politico. “Campaigns that are about specifics, particularly in today’s environment, get tripped up.”

    I disagree with it.

  • Burke Burnett

    Doug can obviously defend himself, but I just find it interesting that Jazzfiend is trying to tell him that he shouldn’t express his political analysis/perspectives on HIS OWN BLOG. It’s rather telling that certain kinds of conservatives are keen to stifle free expression and debate. Greater levels of emotional maturity generally allow people to filter out things they don’t agree with, without having to make a scene and tell that person that they disagree with them.

    Jazzfiend, if you wish to avoid appearing divisive perhaps you may consider taking a dose of your own advice and not posting that “I think that Obama is the worst excuse for a president that we have ever had. He makes Jimmy Carter look good.” Thanks for sharing, though.

  • Paul451

    It feels like Jazzfiend used this article as a how-to guide: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-internet-convinced-me-not-to-vote/

  • Warshawski

    Jazzfiend this is a Blog on space and unfortunately the space program is a pollitical footbal host to lots of political influence. All you need to do is look at the SLS/Orion situation so comment on political candidates space credentials is part and parcel of a space Blog.
    I have to agree with Doug that I expect pollitical candidates state what their policy is and what they intend to do in office so you have some idea which one to vote for.

  • Vladislaw

    I wonder, when Romney was investing millions in china, if he taunted or bashed them before or after he gave them the check.

    Nothing like having to use an accomplishment from the past to try and prove we are not a country living on it’s past accomplishments.