Monday marked the 60th anniversary of former President John F. Kennedy’s famous “moonshot” speech in which he announced the bold and unprecedented effort of the United States to set foot on the moon.
Now, exactly 60 years later, President Joe Biden has announced a bold “moonshot” of his own, albeit, with regard to combating the scourge that is cancer, Fox News reported.
Of course, as he has a tendency to do, Biden marred his own otherwise fine speech with a terribly insensitive gaffe aimed at cancer patients and survivors.
President Biden delivered his speech Monday at the Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Massachusetts to highlight and promote his Cancer Moonshot Initiative, with that location picked because of the historical significance and parallels between the dual “moonshot” efforts.
“On this day in 1962, America was facing an inflection point — one of those times that changes everything, from the day before to the day after,” he said, and added a moment later, “At this inflection point, President Kennedy made a choice for the nation, thank God. On this day in 1962, at Rice University in Houston, he spoke about America’s possibilities.”
Biden proceeded to discuss Kennedy’s moonshot and what it ultimately meant in terms of not simply rallying the nation but paving the way for incredible advancements in knowledge and technology and then drew parallels between that and his own efforts to defeat cancer in its many varied forms.
“This Cancer Moonshot is one of the reasons why I ran for President. It’s part of my Unity Agenda that I laid out in my State of the Union Address to rally the American people to work together,” he added. “Because we know this: Cancer does not discriminate red and blue; it doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat.”
Biden sets ambitious goal to reduce cancer deaths substantially
Fox News reported that much of the remainder of the speech was devoted to Biden expressing optimism about potential breakthroughs in things like early detection, research, and treatments, not to mention making those things cheaper and more widely available.
He also championed a new federal agency known as the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, which is modeled after a similar program in the Pentagon for defense purposes, and praised the funding ARPA-H had already received while urging Congress to provide even more resources for the important efforts.
Ultimately, Biden also declared his bold goal for his “moonshot” effort — reducing deaths from cancer by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years.
Biden utters terrible gaffe regarding cancer patients and suicide
Of course, no Biden speech is complete without an unfortunate gaffe or two, and in this case the president’s foot-in-mouth moment came early as he addressed a group of audience members seated in a balcony and said, “And I want to thank all of you — the cancer patients, survivors, caregivers,” and then joked, “And don’t jump from up there, okay?”
That was a particularly distasteful joke from the president, given the fact that the New York Times just reported earlier this year on two major studies of cancer patients and survivors which found that they are 85 percent more likely to commit suicide than the general population and were much more prone than others to suffer from mental health issues like anxiety, depression, personality disorders, and substance abuse.