Newt Gingrich yesterday called for a permanent based on the moon and more adventures to Mars. That was the obvious headline.
“By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon,” Gingrich said. “And it will be American.”
But his speech about space exploration on Florida’s Space Coast showed why Gingrich may be best suited to take on President Barack Obama in the fall.
The speech was inspirational, nationalistic, anti-bureaucratic, entrepreneurial, and defiantly optimistic. It also showed how Gingrich could turn an attack against him about his grandiosity, which some would say is his greatest liability, into a strength.
“I was attacked the other night for being grandiose,” Gingrich said. “I would just want you to note–Lincoln standing at Council Bluffs was grandiose. The Wright Brothers standing at Kitty Hawk were grandiose. John F. Kennedy was grandiose.”
And likewise, so is Gingrich.
“I accept the charge that I am an American and Americans are instinctively grandiose because Americans believe in a bigger future,’ Gingrich said to a roaring standing ovation.
He also said that he was “sick of being told we have to be timid” and “limited to technologies that are 50 years old.”
The speech was oftentimes personal and his passion for space exploration was evident.
As a youngster, Gingrich said he was fascinated with Sputnik and science fiction.
Gingrich said that it was “tragic what has happened to our space program” the last 30 years and said he planned to make the NASA bureaucracy very “uncomfortable.”
He also compared space exploration to past acts of pioneering.
He spoke of Abraham Lincoln standing on the banks of the Missouri River and saying that a transcontinental railroad should be built even though Americans then did not have the steel making capacity to build rails or engines powerful enough to get past the Sierra Nevada mountains.
He effusively talked about how the Wright Brothers, when attempting to fly, were hated by the elite bureaucracy because “bureacracies hate things that are not invented in the bureaucracy
And he spoke of John F. Kennedy calling upon a new generation to go to the moon and that generation getting there less than a decade later.
When speaking of his resolution that he called the “Northwest Ordinance for the moon,” which Gingrich called his craziest idea, that would have allowed a lunar colony to petition for statehood once it had 13,000 people, Gingrich said there was a difference between “romantics” and “so-called practical people.
“I wanted every young American to say to themselves, ‘I could be one of those 13,000 [lunar colonists], I could be a pioneer,’” Gingrich said.
And Gingrich he wants to “unleash the American people to rebuild country we love” with that same pioneering zeal. And that he would relentlessly spend 365 days a year putting pressure on government bureaucracies to perform better and become leaner.
Gingrich also noted that it was in America’s national interest to have so much interest “in space that the Chinese or Russians will never come close to matching us.”
“Does that make me a visionary?,” Gingrich asked. “
“You betcha,” he answered.
Obama showed how formidable a campaigner he would be in his state of the union address. And he will also be backed by $1 billion dollars in addition to a friendly mainstream media that will help Obama get his message out and defend him from Republican critics.
To beat this juggernaut, Republicans may need someone like Gingrich who is confident and bold enough to say that Americans will have a base on the moon by the end of his second term.