Politics, Not Rocket Science, Snags NASA Chief

Posted: September 28, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Some would say it’s been a lousy year for NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.  Certainly the Wall Street Journal echoes that sentiment:

NASA chief Charles Bolden, reeling from months of sharp attacks by industry and congressional critics, increasingly seems to be confounding even core supporters in the Obama administration.

Described as “A former astronaut and Air Force general,” Bolden is instead a former astronaut and Marine Corps general.  Still regardless of service, there has been plenty of gracelessness surrounding NASA’s politically unreconciled purpose, mission, and future, and especially regarding Bolden’s personal behavior, where he was rapped for violating his ethics pledge.

NASA’s inspector general issued a report concluding that in April 2009 Bolden, who owned more than $500,000 of Marathon Oil Corp. stock at the time, violated an ethics pledge by briefly discussing an agency environmental project with a senior Marathon official. The report concluded that Bolden didn’t violate any laws or regulations. He was formally reprimanded by White House General Counsel Bob Bauer.

But as Billy Mays would say, there’s more:

(Bolden) further surprised and confused some White House aides this week– along with many other NASA-watchers — by going ahead with an official trip to the Czech Republic, Saudi Arabia and Nepal. According to NASA, one highlight of the trip is this weekend’s celebration of the 25th-year anniversary of a space shuttle mission that included the first Arab astronaut.

Buzz about the trip, which includes Bolden’s wife as part of the delegation, escalated just as House leaders maneuvered to schedule a Wednesday floor vote on NASA’s direction and budget. Bolden wasn’t a major participant in the discussions leading up to that decision, according to industry officials and congressional staffers.

Even the guys in the Under Armor ads know to “protect this house,” and they’re not recognized as rocket scientists.  Being unavailable as your agency’s future and funding are being debated is generally considered poor form.  He’s not quite AWOL, but…

It hearkens back to another Boldenism regarding the mission of NASA being Muslim outreach.

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