A politician's speech is the best you can come up with to explain why we need to reach Mars? Oh, my. JFK was all hot and bothered to reach the moon because it would upstage the Soviets, not because it was a noble or even sensible endeavor. There are a number of good reasons why a mission to mars would be desirable: (1) it requires the development of long-range manned spacecraft, (2) it gets us out of low earth orbit, (3) (in the long term) it encourages the development of new forms of long-range propulsion and an important emphasis on interplanetary life support systems. I could scrawl down a few dozen more, but the *important* bit is that it encourages us to make tentative steps into the larger solar system. And -- once we can reach other planets and moons -- perhaps there's an economic opportunity to be found that drives further advances.