Sunday, January 29, 2012

What went wrong?

It may be too early to do this post, as the primary has not been held yet.  Conventional wisdom has it that Romney will win in Florida.  Doing a post mortem on a campaign that isn't dead yet has some risks, not only for the "patient", but the "coroner".

It may not be too early to mention what has gone wrong so far.

Gingrich gave an excellent and reasonable speech on space policy last week.  But it is being caricatured as a bit of "zaniness" that is supposed to be typical of Newt.  The cover of National Review had Newt caricatured as "Marvin the Martian", which did nothing to endear me towards that publication.  To top it all off, Romney has added injury to insult with a dishonest debate answer about excessive costs.  For this, he is considered to have won- by somebody or something.  Yet, if true, it was a hollow victory by an undeserving victor over a worthy opponent.

For one may rightly ask, if a presidential candidate can't make a serious speech about a serious subject, during a time of angst about the future, when can he?  If there was a time for a speech like this, this was it.  If there was a place for a speech like this, it was Florida.  It decidedly wasn't the wrong time, nor the wrong place, nor flawed subject matter.  It all fit perfectly, as far as I can tell, into what everyone needed to hear.  But it wasn't totally and irrefutably perfect in all ways to all people.

Thus it is said to have been rejected, if the polls are any indication.

As for the specific proposals, they are not perfect perhaps.  But what is?  Isn't the process supposed to iron out deficiencies?  Should perfection be the enemy of the good?  Evidently the polls and the gods say so.  It may be hard, politically to put a base on the moon, we are told, and for that reason the speech isn't perfect.  If the speech isn't perfect, why, it must be worthless.  If the speech is worthless, the speaker is a horrible candidate.  World without end.

One can believe that the "fix is in", but that doesn't mean everybody has to fall into line.  That doesn't mean everybody has to give up their own judgment.  But if you believe the polls, it is imperative that you fall into line.  You must.  If you don't, the evil Obama will win.  Why?  Why the gods say so.  You must not question the gods.

Technically it is said to be feasible.  Economically it is said to be feasible, but hard.  But politically it is too hard.  Whatever happened to "yes we can"?  It has morphed into "you'd better not".  If you ask, "why not?", you are told that it can't be done.  If you challenge the assumptions behind the denial, you are ignored.  You are crazy.  You are deluded.  But why?  Because somebody or something says so?

It is true that space is hard, but it is not true that space is impossible.  It is true that politics of space may be hard, but it has also been shown not to be impossible.  Economics does not have to be a problem- flexibility isn't impossible either.  It is only impossible if you believe it to be so.  A shift in priorities and the use of best practices can bring in the project under budget and on time.  It only takes the will to do it, and maybe that is the explanation for everything.

If there's no will, there can be no way.

If Gingrich made a mistake, maybe it is because he thought too highly of us.  Or do we think too highly of polls?  If we let polls do our thinking for us, Gingrich may have been mistaken after all.

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