Speaking of relics of a bygone era….
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
I also was reading Kennedy’s moon space. One of the things that impressed me after reading the speech again is the combination of lofty idealism with the hard noise bookkeepping “where is the money going to come from” thinking.
The most interesting paragraph in the moon speech is the last paragraph….
I have not asked for a single program which did not cause one or all Americans some inconvenience, or some hardship, or some sacrifice. But they have responded and you in the Congress have responded to your duty–and I feel confident in asking today for a similar response to these new and larger demands. It is heartening to know, as I journey abroad, that our country is united in its commitment to freedom and is ready to do its duty.
That gets me because I don’t remember the last time that an American politician in recent years who has asked people to sacrifice personal interest for the greater good.
Compare Kennedy’s 1961 speech with Bush’s 2006 and 2005 speech….
There is not a word in that speech about hardship, inconvenience, or pain.
There are two paragraphs from Kennedy’s 1961 speech that are relevant to the situation in Iraq, and I don’t recall Bush making any of these points in any speech he made.
Let it be clear–and this is a judgment which the Members of the Congress must finally make–let it be clear that I am asking the Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs: 531 million dollars in fiscal ’62–an estimated seven to nine billion dollars additional over the next five years. If we are to go only half way, or reduce our sights in the face of difficulty, in my judgment it would be better not to go at all.
I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.
The other thing that I’ve noticed in reading Kennedy’s speechs is that winning the Cold War wasn’t merely military, but involved an integrated military and economic strategy. The Soviet Union ultimately wasn’t defeated by military means, but it was bankrupted.
Also if you look at the two speeches….
The one thing that stands out about Kennedy’s speech was how internationalist in character it was, and how there *wasn’t* any sense of historical inevitability. The United States *could* have lost the Cold War, just as it *could* lose the Long War, and that fact focuses the mind in a way that Bush’s speech didn’t do.
The reason all of this is significant for me is that I’m starting to understand what it was in Kennedy that made my father such a fan of his.