October 1st, 2010
12:44 PM ET

Letters to the President: #620 'Hello out there'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama and the Democrats are trying to sort out how to handle the upcoming elections as they fan out across the country in the next few weeks, and the Republicans are doing the same. Meanwhile, I find myself looking beyond the city limits too…way beyond.

Dear Mr. President,

One of the biggest problems here in Washington (I mean, beyond the economy, the deficit, and the relentless aversion to cooperation) is that too many people here seem to think that this is the only place that really matters on the planet. Sometimes, when I get away from the political pages that I read all day, I am astounded at how much else is going on in the world, and frankly, beyond it.

Like this story about how scientists have found a planet where they think there is almost certainly other life. After Tang and the Planet of the Apes, isn’t this what we’ve been looking for all those years out there? Shouldn’t there be some kind of wild fanfare and a special presidential commission instantly formed to dispatch a delegation? And yet I have heard not even a rumble of excitement from the DC crowd over this.

Admittedly maybe this new planet’s name is the problem: Gliese 581g. That’s not much of a tag for an interplanetary wonder. If I were on the case I would have named it something like Astronomus or Cosmoreten or maybe VicTabackia. Heck, if you’re sending a team, why not claim it for yourself, with something like “Obamiter”?

The distance also seems a bit troubling. It’s 20 light years away, so if we could travel at the speed of light, that’s still a pretty long work shift for even an astronaut and I don’t want to talk about what the overtime would do to the NASA budget. And at a more energy-conscious 55 or 60 miles an hour…uh…well, it would take a lot longer. We’d pretty much have to send families and let them produce generations of astronauts in transit. And then what would we do if one of the kids wanted to be a baseball player or farmer instead?

So on second thought I guess I understand why no one made much of a fuss about it here. Still, I found it nice to ponder some things beyond the usual Sturm und Drang of politics for a while, and hoped you might too. Btw, I have the coolest app on my iPad called Star Walk. Give a call if you are free for lunch today. I’ll even let you pick the place. My treat!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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