Ed Driscoll

Tranquility Base Here, the Ego has Landed

When Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the man died last August, as Jim Treacher wrote at the time, Obama paid tribute, the only way he knows how. “This is not a Photoshop. This was actually posted on Obama’s official Tumblr page,” Treacher wrote:

Bless his heart; Obama probably thought he was being modest by appearing in silhouette.

Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. was the second man to walk on the moon, following Armstrong out the escape hatch of the lunar module in July of 1969. Four decades later, as with Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin was little more than a photo prop for our 44th president:

On April 15, 2010, President Obama delivered his central speech on space policy at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.  Aldrin was given a ride on Air Force One to the speech.  Aldrin said tonight in front of a packed house in a National Geographic auditorium in Washington D.C. that he presumed he might have a chance to speak with the President about options for space during the flight to Kennedy.

But it didn’t happen. President Obama had nothing to say to the moonwalker and didn’t seem to want to hear anything from Aldrin on the long flight to Florida.  So Aldrin sat in the back of Air Force One and never saw Obama – until it landed.

When it landed, Aldrin said he was summoned to the front of the plane. But he found out it was not to talk about space policy.  Instead, President Obama wanted Aldrin to emerge from Air Force One next to Obama for a photo op.  The moonwalker was to be a mere prop.

Bryan Preston has the photos that emerged from the flight. Safe to say, Aldrin does not look happy.* As Bryan adds, “Aldrin believes that Obama’s current space priorities are a waste of the nation’s time, and after that flight, he knew that his own personal time had been wasted, too.”

But why would Obama need to talk to one of the few men still alive who had walked on the moon?

Obama had always had a high estimation of his ability to cast and run his operation. When David Plouffe, his campaign manager, first interviewed for a job with him in 2006, the senator gave him a warning: “I think I could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it,” he said. “It’s hard to give up control when that’s all I’ve known.” Obama said nearly the same thing to Patrick Gaspard, whom he hired to be the campaign’s political director. “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters,” Obama told him. “I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

And no doubt, Obama thinks he knows more about space than Buzz Aldrin.

* And you do not want to make Aldrin unhappy.