The President’s upcoming trip to the Space Coast is not for Obama to roll-out his space vision. No, this trip is about one thing–keeping Florida, and the White House, in 2012.
It is difficult to imagine how important Obama’s Titusville space speech was in helping him win 6/12 counties that make up Florida’s I-4 Corridor and delivering that state in ’08. Watching Obama’s Titusville Space speech again, a local actually working in the space program would walk away thinking this guy is going to fund-up, not cut, Constellation.
Now it’s 2010 and though several, from pro-commercial-anti-Constellation space sites to the White House, have tried hard, there is no plausible way to spin the President’s 2010 NASA plans as anything other than the gutting of America’s human space flight leadership. And if his space position remains as outlined by his FY 2011 NASA Budget, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the President is running the very real risk of loosing Florida, which means the White House, in 2012.
Why is Florida so important to the President? If the last three state-wide elections of New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts have shown anything, it’s that the 2008 charm is dulled. 2012 will not be about the audacity of hope but about the President’s record. Examination of Election night 2008’s map tells why Florida, with 27 electoral votes and only 4th behind California, Texas, and New York, will probably be key. California, Texas, and New York were not in play in 2008 and will not be again in 2012. The same cannot be said for much of the rest of the nation and its 192 electoral votes that separated President Obama from Senator McCain. And should the GOP will somehow “get it together” by nominating a candidate who could win nationally, the President looses his re-election bit if he looses Florida.
Is Florida really at risk? Look at the very vocal, harsh really, opposition to the President’s plans by two Democratic Representatives, Grayson from the 8th (Orlando) or Kosmas from the 24th (northern Space Coast). Sans two hyper-conservative GOP Congressmen, the whole of the Florida Congressional delegation, 23 Legislators in all, told the White House that the space plan is a looser. Florida Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink came out last week stating that You could aptly argue that there is no issue more important in the state of Florida than to address the issue of the Space Coast. These Florida office holders know that President’s plans is a dud. And the Democratic office holders know that even being associated with the President’s space plan is a ticket to job-hunting.
In fact, the only folks who seem to think that the President’s plans to end NASA’s human space program are a winner are people who have never liked our nation’s current human space flight program. Given the almost universal blow-back to the Administration’s plans for NASA, one almost has to wonder if the President’s space advisors were not channelling their inner-Republican when they came up with the crack-pot idea they call “a new direction for NASA”.
A Florida victory in 2012 is at risk because the President’s support is subterranean in the eastern and central anchors of Florida’s I-4 Corridor gratis his decimation of the nation’s human space program. This is the sole reason the President is taking time off from dealing with two wars, a sputtering-back-to-life economy, and trying to get Student Loan, Healthcare, and Financial Reform legislation passed to return to the Space Coast. Not because the President cares that much about space–he doesn’t.
Unlike 2008 when the President made his Titusville speech before an adoring crowd, when he goes to the Space Coast in April we doubt a cheering crowd, unless it is doing the Bronx cheer, will be there.
Our advice to the President would be to reverse course, ditch this so-called “new direction for NASA”, maybe even those who cooked it up, and keep the promises made in Titusville on August 2nd, 2008.