Gingrich’s Moon Shot

I had really hoped to kick off my blogging career here by focusing on some serious, meaty policy issue that happened to be politically relevant today.

But then late yesterday Newt Gingrich had to go and promise voters on Florida’s NASA-dependent Space Coast a “permanent Moon base” by 2020. He even spoke of this lunar colony becoming large enough to petition for statehood, proudly calling himself a “romantic” as opposed to “so-called practical people.” Gaze in awe:

I’ve been watching Gingrich from a pretty close vantage point since the mid-1970s, and it is so like Newt to combine his sci-fi fantasies with the crassest kind of pandering. From the very beginning of his career, he has always had the mind of an undisciplined grad student and the soul of Boss Tweed. It’s not always easy to tell if he wants raw political power in order to peddle his pseudo-scientific theories, his revisionist historical notions, and his bad fiction–or the reverse. He definitely has a queasy affinity for schemes to wield terrestrial power from beyond the earth’s atmosphere, from his early enthusiasm for space weaponry to his lifelong admiration for Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.

His lunar colony pledge might be harmless or at least amusing if he were not in the habit of lecturing poor people on the hard realities of personal responsibility, and scoffing at those types of public investment that don’t engage his interest in warfare or some other form of domination. As it is, his speech down in Cocoa is mainly a sign that he’s now confident enough of victory in Florida primary that he’s inviting voters into his private club house and showing them his comic books.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.