May 15 2008

Is Obama the Next ONE?

The studly black man that has been the center of attention in the presidential race interests us because of his relevance to the Big Question: Who will be the 21st Century analog to President John F. Kennedy – i.e., “The Space President” (SP) – who will officially usher in the new race to space?

The Nominal Model timeline (see The Forecasts) provides a big hint. Our SP will be elected either in 2016 (assuming 56 years after Kennedy’s election in 1960) or possibly as early as 2012. The SP will respond to an international Sputnik-like “shock” that will occur near 2013 (Sputnik in 1957 plus 56 years), so either date is a reasonable forecast. Indeed, near 2013 we expect that an international group probably headed by China will announce their intention to begin the large-scale development and colonization of space (e.g., Earth orbit, Moon, Mars, etc.).

Obama’s timing is interesting. If he is elected president this year he will probably require a second term to be the SP. If he loses this year but wins in 2012 and/or 2016 he is likely the One!

Mr. Obama has been compared often to President Kennedy because of his charisma and youth; Kennedy was 43 when elected president and Obama is 45. And like Kennedy, Obama’s popularity transcends traditional political loyalties and societal expectations. (Even Rudy Guiliani’s daughter supports Obama!) His youth, mixed heritage, and Harvard education lends him a symbolic strength.

Much like Kennedy, Obama’s candidacy has come during turbulent times when Americans are seeking “change.” They’re attracted to Obama because he is the most progressive presidential candidate. His charisma has overshadowed questions about his lack of experience and his candidacy has become a fashionable cause. While Hilary Clinton may appear to have more experience than Obama, her public image has suffered (e.g., “Sniper-gate”) throughout her campaign and she is simply not as personable or inspiring. It is much like a high school student council election where the most popular and good-looking candidate receives the most support overshadowing the smart, ugly girl.

Like Obama, Kennedy had his issues and detractors and interestingly they centered around religion and his youth. In 1960 some were concerned about having a Catholic president; e.g., how would he relate to the Pope? Although hard to imagine now, it did initially cost Kennedy some support and contributed to a very close election; Kennedy won nationwide by only 112,000 votes (0.1%). Obama’s issues with his blunt Chicago pastor have not injured him among Democrats but are expected to impact the general election if he is nominated.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Is Obama the Next ONE?”

  1. Michelle Evanson 17 May 2008 at 7:46 pm

    If Obama is indeed destined to be our next Space President, I would have to say that he has a very steep learning curve to get there. Out of the three current presidential candidates he is the only one who has an expressly stated policy of slowing down our human space program. In fact, he wants to slow it down so much that it would in effect be canceled. His policy is that he wants to take money from an already budget crunched NASA and to put that into other programs such as education. He understands fully that his policy would leave at least a decade long gap between the final Space Shuttle flight and the eventual first flight of Orion. My position is that if we have a human space program with a decade between flights, that is in canceling our program. Ten years of the Chinese and Russians moving on when we are sitting on our thumbs will forever relegate us as a second- or event third-rate space power.

    Obama has had people point out to him the detriments of his proposed NASA plan and yet he has still said this is what he wants to do. and with the force of the presidency behind him, it would take an awful lot of work to change that policy over his objections.

    For the predictions of this technological cycle to become fact requires someone at the lead who can marshal the forces necessary to take action when the time is right. With Obama, I fear that if the time became right, he would be the president who would squander that possibility. He could have the same overall effect on shutting down the cycle as would happen if a major conflict were to divert attention too early.

    Clinton is the only presidential hopeful who has shown she understands space and its ramifications for the future of our society with her stated policy of seeding additional money to NASA and not accepting a long gap with no American human presence in space beyond what the Russians might allow on taxi flights to ISS. She wants Ares and Orion built and their schedules accelerated. Obama wants only the opposite. And if he were to become president, I would only hope that our congress can convince him of the error of his current policy and not allow his wishes to become law. The window is very short for that learning curve to happen and for him to truly understand the long term human effects his policy holds.

  2. Mike Zornon 19 May 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Michelle is certainly right about Obama, but I can’t agree about Clinton. While she may have made those statements about NASA, I remember her best for this one:

    *** Two years ago the top Democrat explained the driving philosophy behind her economic policies, telling a San Francisco fund-raiser that when Democrats finally win back the White House, “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

    Another citation:

    *** “Many of you are well enough off that the tax cuts may have helped you. We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.” -Hillary Clinton (At a fund raising speech in San Francisco)

    By using the term “take it away from you”, she’s making it plain that they consider everybody’s money to be theirs first, ours second.

    Some of us may also remember the interview during which she talked about early career choices: athlete, doctor, lawyer, then astronaut, but was turned down ‘because ‘NASA did not take girls.’. There’s no record of what Sally Ride thought of that comment.

    I finally found a reference to her NASA speech. It was in 2007, before the elections. It was before the Florida elections, where there’s some small interest in NASA, and therefore made purely for political effect.

    I’ll try to adhere to Dr Cordell’s aim to not getting too deeply into politics, but there are some things that are driven by politics. A few little things, like the space program and the national education program.

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