“Suspend the Campaign” Is the New “Sex”

So … McCain suspended his campaign, snubbing Letterman but still appearing on Katie Couric’s cameras. Then he meets with everyone yesterday, in what many felt was “a rescue plan for McCain” rather than the country. And now he’s going to the debates [which I’m glad of, even if Nate Silver might have it right on how he’s doubling-down here] … but did he ever really suspend the campaign?

Dave Letterman is right: “This is not how a tested hero behaves.” And that’s the problem—the John McCain we’re getting to vote for in five-ish weeks is not the guy who ran in 2000 or even the guy from 2007. Of course, neither has Obama kept to his lofty ideals; this has just denigrated to your normal level campaign.

So Chris tweeted: “So McCain will go ahead and debate tonight. Snarky comments from @gfmorris in 3… 2… 1… ” I responded thusly:

  1. “John saw Sarah’s “performance” with Katie Couric and didn’t want to send her in his stead.”
  2. “It all depends on what your definition of ‘suspending the campaign’ is.”
  3. “It’s amazing that, in 2008, we’re excited about an *old white guy* going to Ole Miss. James Meredith must be proud.”

Let’s look at this dispassionately: If you came in from another planet and were shown the actions of the two candidates and were told, “One of these guys has been at the national seat of government for more than two decades, was a prisoner of war for over five years, and used to command a military organization; the other guy is a first-term member of the higher house of the national seat of government, has far less experience than his opponent, and is a quarter-century younger,” and then told that same observer the actions of McCain and Obama in the last week … wouldn’t you think that this observer would figure the panicky, impassioned responses for Obama and not McCain?

I mean, if you’d told me that, less than six weeks before the election, the economy was going to crater and either Obama or McCain would be losing their shit, I would’ve bet on Obama—and I’m an Obama supporter.

Obama Appears to Come Around on Manned Spaceflight

Wall Street Journal‘s Washington Wire reports:

Barack Obama was accused of pandering to the space set in Cape Canaveral on Saturday.

During a town-hall-style event on Florida’s so-called space coast, the Democrat said he no longer favors slashing NASA’s budget, declaring that the U.S. “cannot cede our leadership in space.”

Obama had previously supported delaying NASA’s manned missions in order to pay for early childhood education programs. Aides say he has now found other means to pay for his education plans.

As you would expect, McCain’s campaign is calling Obama’s switch from a platform plank that cut Constellation funding, which I wrote about in March, a flip-flop. I’m not so stringent about it, mainly because I was asking for the change in platform.

The Obama campaign’s explanation is that the platform changed when different funding priorities were assessed. That’s a far smaller change to me than, say, McCain’s voting against Bush’s income tax cuts in the Senate but supporting them now that he’s the nominee. [Note: this is not an indictment of the tax cut per se, although I have come to the opinion that supply-side economics is fundamentally flawed. If this minor point becomes a bone of contention in the comments, I’ll follow up so that discussion can have a better forum.]

Disclaimers: I work in manned spaceflight, and I have donated to Obama’s political campaign despite originally thinking that I could not do so. Also, for anyone coming in on this, I voted for McCain in Alabama’s Republican primary, the first time I’ve voted in a party primary.

Campaign Finance, the Military-Industrial Complex, and Me

So, the other day, I was really considering donating to Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign.

[I will now pause while Dad, Mom, and Doug finish their spit take. … Okay.]

Then I ran across this one point, which made sense once I thought about it:

This contribution is not made from the treasury of an entity or person who is a federal contractor.

I don’t think that it’s much of a secret that I work for an aerospace and defense contractor. And I’m with Ike:

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction…

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

It is because of this that I am proud to not donate to Obama. But he is getting my support.

Obama and Manned Spaceflight

If I believe NPR’s David Kestenbaum—and I generally do—then Barack Obama’s views on manned spaceflight have cost him my vote. I recommend listening to the entire story, but the blurb listed on NPR.org is very telling:

Advocates of NASA’s plan to return to the moon are concerned that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has said he will raid NASA’s budget to fund education. While the issue of space exploration hasn’t gotten much attention this campaign season, it is a topic on which the candidates do differ.

Raiding NASA’s budget to fund education is like sponsoring the US Olympic Team but then not sending them to Beijing this summer. Admittedly, I’m quite biased as someone who works in manned spaceflight, but space science is one of the few endeavors that mankind has left that is, on the whole, quite positive. Sure, there are negatives—one reason NASA will continue to get funding is fear over the Chinese space program, and the International Space Station largely has justified a jobs program to keep Russian rocket scientists from going to work for Iran, North Korea, and China—but that we’ve gotten the world’s nations to push together for this quite lofty goal is impressive. That we won’t let the Chinese be a part is sad, to be sure, but that’s something that talk-with-your-enemies Obama would support, right?

When I posted about voting in Alabama’s primaries last month, I was leaning Obama. Hillary’s desperate tactics in the face of Obamamania have pushed me further in his direction. But just as I did in 2004, I’ll vote with my job, even if that’s “fucking idiotic” to some. Admittedly, part of the reason that I like both Obama and McCain is that they don’t seem to fall into the “you’re stupid because you disagree with me” argument. I’m fairly convinced that either candidate would make a good President; I hope you’ll understand why I’m likely to make the choice to vote with my job.

[I mean, I guess that, now that I’m management, my skills are portable, but … I do kinda like this shit. I mean, I did get one of NASA’s highest honors last year. 😉 ]