Overhead Projectorgate | Bleader

Overhead Projectorgate



There are so many complex issues in this presidential election. Who knows how we’ll get out of the financial, military, environmental, heath-care, and entitlement messes we’re in? But things got simpler when, during the second of the three presidential debates, John McCain accused Barack Obama of earmarking $3 million to buy an "overhead projector" for "a planetarium in Chicago." The charge was surreal. What could McCain be referring to? Some gold-plated custom number from a secret department at Staples?

By the next morning, newspapers all over the country were pointing out that the money was budgeted to replace the planetarium's nearly 40-year-old sky projection system, which spreads the whole firmament across the dome of Adler's historic Sky Theater. The request for federal funding wasn't approved, but, according to Sky Theater manager Mark Webb, the planetarium is still hoping to replace the old, two-ton machine—all gears and motors—with something more appropriate for the digital age. Webb says a new system would allow for more flexible, accurate, and up-to-date programs and "would let us see space from anywhere in the known universe."

Amazingly, those pesky front-page corrections didn't stop McCain from making the "overhead projector" claim again. In a jaw-dropping moment during the third and final debate, he hauled it back out using exactly the same words. And that’s when all the complex issues of this campaign clicked into focus: if you think the Adler should make do with the old technology—or maybe a blackboard—and if you want another president who sticks to his story no matter what the facts are, you know who to vote for.