"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish." John F Kennedy, May 25, 1961
""By the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon. And it will be American." Newt Gingrich, January 25, 2012
Why, exactly is the first quote considered inspiring and visionary and the second considered insane?
When JFK said we should go to the moon, 2 people had been in space, ever. We didn't know if it was possible to actually survive in space for any extended period of time. The technology didn't exist to accomplish the goal. So far, our space program consisted of strapping a guy to the front end of an ICBM and hoping when he came back down he'd land near one of the boats waiting for him.
Now, we've had people going into space for more than 50 years. We've been to the moon. The International Space Station has been crewed constantly for more than 10 years. Yet, somehow, people think that the idea of a permanent lunar colony is more insane now than getting to the moon was 50 years ago. Most of us carry more computing power in our pockets for playing games than they needed for those first moon missions. What the hell is wrong with people? Has the idea of doing amazing things become a joke to us? Are we so jaded that just because we don't like someone's politics we have to discount and ridicule every idea they have?
Is Gingrich crazy? Probably. He thinks cheating on his wives somehow translates to making him more qualified to lead the country than other people, but a moon colony should not be considered a bigger sign of crazy than that.