Newt's Moon Speech: Not Actually Crazy

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 25 2012 5:36 PM

Newt's Moon Speech: Not Actually Crazy

Zeke Miller reports from a Gingrich appearance on Florida's space coast, where he talked about -- wait for it -- space. "When they have 13,000 Americans living on the moon," he said, "they can petition to become a state."

The idea is older than Miller himself. Gingrich proposed it in his 1984 futurist manifesto Window of Opportunity, published during his third term in the House. In a classic Gingrichian touch, the moon colony's statehood would be made possible by a "Northwest Ordinance for Space." His "space sex" theorizing and space mirror mathematics got more attention, but the moon idea; that was the big one.

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He's never backed down from it. Why would he? Why would he do it in Florida? We call this chunk of the state the "space coast" for a reason, ably explained by Paul Barrett in a great 2010 piece about the local recession.

Communities along Florida's Space Coast, built on the optimism and industry of the space program, are in economic peril. The area's 12 percent unemployment rate—2½ points higher than the national average—is expected to rise to 15 percent over the next year, mostly as a result of the space industry contraction.

It's an idea that makes the New York/Washington-Alinskyite media guffaw. It also happens to be a pander to local voters that no one else will try to make. Do we still think the "Newt's so erratic" Romney attack has bite? If not -- if we're on to the "Newt's a lobbyist" attack -- then this does the candidate no harm.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics