What is it about men in the twilight of their presidencies that has them reaching to the stars?

During a simultaneously odd and inspiring moment of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said, “I want Americans to win the race for the kinds of discoveries that unleash new jobs—converting sunlight into liquid fuel; creating revolutionary prosthetics, so that a veteran who gave his arms for his country can play catch with his kid; pushing out into the solar system not just to visit, but to stay. Last month, we launched a new spacecraft as part of a re-energized space program that will send American astronauts to Mars.”

In case you missed it, he said, “not just to visit, but to stay.” So are we planning to — what — build Martian colonies? We are truly living in a science fiction novel.

Except it’s probably not going to happen. Remember that Obama himself killed President George W. Bush’s plan, which also was announced in a State of the Union, to send astronauts back to the moon. At the time, Obama called the program “over-budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation.”

So here’s to Mars. Maybe one day our children will play in the domes of New Los Angeles. Just don’t hold your breath for equal pay.

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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