Forty-five years ago this month — as everybody here knows — the U.S. Air Force managed to slither out of UFO research by shutting down Project Blue Book. It did so by hiring the University of Colorado to make its UFO stuff go away, and UC project director Edward Condon was the man who could deliver the goods. Less than a year into his panel’s review, Condon declared the subject was “nonsense,” and added, “but I’m not supposed to reach that conclusion for another year.” The USAF got its $313,000 worth when Condon officially announced UFOs were a massive waste of time and beneath the dignity of serious scientists.
But he couldn’t just stop there. In the condescending “Conclusions and Recommendations” portion of the report, Condon actually made a play at equanimity: “We think that all of the agencies of the federal government, and the private foundations as well, ought to be willing to consider UFO research proposals along with the others submitted to them on an opend-minded, unprejudiced basis. While we do not think at present that anything worthwhile is likely to come of such research, each individual case ought to be carefully considered on its own merits.”
Yeah right. Nearly half a century later, anyone who thinks Condon’s poisoned wellwater is safe for mainstream science to drink should check in with British chemist Erol Faruk about how easily institutional thinking accepts dissenting opinion on The Great Taboo today. And yet, this time of year, maybe it’s the egg nog, De Void gets a little sentimental about the prospects for alternative scenarios. Especially after watching Obama shake up the moribund status quo on Cuba last week.
Here’s why the time is now: Despite giving Capitol Hill an 11 percent approval rating, Americans last month not only ratified the most impotent and unpopular legislative body since Harry Truman, they gave it a mandate to do even less as Obama completes the final years of his lame-duck term. Having nothing to lose can be tremendously liberating — witness the president’s gambit on Cuba. To the extent that he can navigate around Congress, the next two years could be the most productive of Obama’s presidency. He could start with another no-brainer, like ending Dick Nixon’s war on weed with a stroke of the pen.
Anyhow, with the 2016 horse race right around the corner — and you may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one — how difficult is it to imagine Hillary’s opposition dogging her with every datapoint at its disposal? You wouldn’t even need the Beltway crowd to attack her “little green man constituency”; Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, et al, could get that ball rolling easily enough. Or maybe, in an even more perfect world, they’d skip Hillary altogether and lob little green man tomatoes directly at one of Obama’s key insiders. And then, in a surprise flanking maneuver, emboldened by the Cuba momentum, No. 44 takes the mike at a press conference and delivers a what-the-hell:
“You know, folks, it’s been half a century since we took a serious look at UFOs. And given the revolution in digital technology, and given longstanding public interest in the subject, and after extensive discussions with senior White House counsel John Podesta, I’ve decided to take the late great Dr. Condon up on his word by setting up an exploratory panel, for less than one-twelfth the cost of a single Reaper drone, to –”
It’s Christmas, man. ‘Tis the season to be jolly.