COMMENTARY | Psychologists tell us that tension arises when one tries to hold two conflicting notions in the mind at the same. They call this phenomenon cognitive dissonance; sometimes -- it seems to me -- the term should apply when an individual acts in a way or says something that conflicts with the way he otherwise presents himself. This tense condition, however, never seems to afflict GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich -- although arguably it should.
Gingrich is selling himself as a conservative intellectual, the sort of deep thinker who can right our ship of state by applying imagination to the regular conservative agenda, including presumably fiscal conservatism. With that in mind, let's examine the candidate's remarks Wednesday to some voters on Florida's Space Coast.
As reported by The New York Times' Charles M. Blow, "Gingrich told a crowd ? that 'by the end of my second term, we will have the first permanent base on the moon. And it will be American.' And he said he would push for the introduction of a 'Northwest Ordinance for Space' so that when the number of colonists reached 13,000, they could petition for statehood."
Many Americans, and certainly most Republicans, have at least some level of discomfort with the current federal deficit, so the question begs: How much would this moon colony cost -- completing it before 2020, no less? In the current limping recovery from recession, why would a national politician even utter this idea aloud, even to the friendliest audience?
Second, notice what is being suggested in practical terms, to use that phrase as loosely as possible. Wouldn't Sens. Kirk and Spock of the great state of Moon Newton have to live in or near Washington to correctly represent their fellow, celestial Newtonians? Talk about a disconnect between elected officials and their constituents. Perhaps Sen. Kirk would roam the halls of Congress in a space helmet -- you know, just a reminder of his "home state" reality.
Well, Gingrich is a man who likes to remind us his mind frequently "goes where no man has gone before." We have fine institutions for such people. Not one is called the White House.