When George Bush announced his "Return To The Moon" proposal in the midst of the 2004 election campaign, it sank like a rock from the American collective consciousness. Some felt the whole idea of building a Lunar base in preparation for a Mars Mission was a distraction; some felt that revisiting 30 year old achievements was about as exciting as looking at your wife's knees (ie. not very); and some felt the purpose of the proposal was merely to be a proposal, a political tool Bush could whip out whenever he was accused of being anti science.
Turns out we were all right. The Bush plan is "starting to crumble" from a lack of funding and a lack of enthusiasm among both the public and space planners:
It's becoming painfully obvious that the Moon is not a stepping-stone for manned Mars operations but is instead a stumbling block," says Robert Farquhar, a veteran of planning and operating planetary and deep-space missions.
[The Planetary Society] is co-hosting the invitation-only VSE replanning session with Stanford. A lot of people going to the meeting believe "the Moon is so yesterday," says [Lou] Friedman, head of [The Planetary Society].
"It just does not feel right. And there's growing belief that, at high cost, it offers minimal engineering benefit for later manned Mars operations."
Exactly. You didn't even need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.
As an alternative, a growing corps of scientists, engineers and astronauts is arguing that, once Bush is gone out the door, efforts should be directed towards an Asteroid mission, a mission to the LaGrange points, and a "direct to Mars" project.
As with so many things Bush-related, the early OOs will turn out have been wasted time for NASA and the American space effort.