The Slatest

Trump Helpfully Instructs NASA to Get “Focused” on “Science”

An astronaut on the moon salutes the camera while standing by an American flag and the lunar lander and rover.
Moon science in action. NASA/David Scott/Handout via Reuters

Some classic Friday Afternoon Presidential Thoughts (TM) here to unpack:

First of all, the most glaring ?????? of this tweet—the assertion that the moon is part of Mars—is actually both less and more insane than it sounds.

It’s less insane in that Trump has previously endorsed a policy of planning moon missions as a means of preparing for a longer mission to Mars. So “of which the Moon is a part” is just a shorthand way of referring to the idea that a modern-era moon landing would be one small step (hahahahaha) toward the larger project of going to the Red Planet.

It’s more insane in that highlighting the moon-landing aspect of the project was the Trump administration’s idea in the first place. Mike Pence gave a speech about it in March! Here’s a tweet about it that Trump sent less than a month ago!

And the most insane, yet also most predictable, part of all of it is that this sudden 180 degree shift in the United States’ position on The Moon seems to have been based on an offhand remark that Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto made during a noon appearance on his show by NASA’s chief financial officer. Media Matters’ indefatigable Fox watcher Matthew Gertz has the details:

I mean, for God’s sake.

Still, as the headline above indicates, my favorite thing about this tweet is ultimately that the president, whose only area of expertise is reality TV real estate marketing, just told NASA that it should consider working on “science.”

When does that trip to Mars leave again? Because I know a certain 60 percent of the U.S. adult population that might be interested in a seat.