As the economic crisis has deepened, McCain's biggest talking point about the economy has been the proliferation of "earmarks" in government, those state projects that legislators add to Federal budget requests for their home states. For me, a discussion of earmarks during the current economic crisis has made McCain look incredibly out-of-touch, evenly dangerously so. After all, as Obama pointed out, earmarks amount to $18 billion, and the current economic crisis will cost at least $700 billion. McCain sounds very much like a man who, when he sees the wheels coming off his moving car, comments on how the cigarette lighter needs to be fixed.
One comment jumped out at me during the second debate, and I was reminded of it by a post on The Greenbelt; railing against earmarks again, McCain said,
He voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork barrel earmark projects, including, by the way, $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?
The problem is, that "overhead projector" that McCain refers to is in fact the primary planetarium projector for the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, the country's first planetarium, built in 1930. The Planetarium issued the following statement in response:
To clarify, the Adler Planetarium requested federal support - which was not funded - to replace the projector in its historic Sky Theater, the first planetarium theater in the Western Hemisphere. The Adler's Zeiss Mark VI projector - not an overhead projector - is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential planetarium experience. The Adler's projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium projector in the Adler's 78 years of operation.
Science literacy is an urgent issue in the United States. To remain competitive and ensure national security, it is vital that we educate and inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Senator McCain's statements about the Adler Planetarium's request for federal support do not accurately reflect the museum's legislative history or relationship with Senator Obama.
So McCain apparently thinks that funding a building that promotes science education is something to be ridiculed. His statement wasn't accidental; he's criticized planetarium funding as "foolish" before.
I couldn't imagine my respect for McCain sinking any lower than it already had, but his stance that science education for kids is a waste of taxpayer money dropped him into the category of "vile, angry, anti-science miser."
If I were the Obama camp, I would be hammering the McCain campaign about this:
McCain: science education is "foolish"