The Corner

NASA Lifts Off to the Kingdom

You’ll recall the NASA administrator relaying that he had been bizarrely tasked with diplomacy work with the Muslim world. The White House denied it. Bolden, however, is still hard at work. He’s headed — with his wife, daughter, and a delegation that includes spouses — this weekend to Saudi Arabia to celebrate the first Muslim in space. He does so under an ethics cloud. Leading some more under-the-bus pushing. 

From the Orlando Sentinel

The planned visit comes just a few months after Bolden told the Middle East news outlet Al Jazeera that one of the top three priorities assigned to him by President Barack Obama was to “find a way to reach out to the Muslim world” – a remark that ignited Obama’s conservative critics and forced the White House to spend much of July trying to defend and explain Bolden’s comments.

Another trip to the Middle East, coupled with the report about Bolden’s ethical misconduct, could create new controversy at a time when the administration is trying to reach agreement with Congress on the future of NASA’s human-space program. Congress has balked at Obama’s desire to cancel the Constellation moon rocket program and rely on commercial spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. A Senate-passed compromise plan has stalled.

“Administrator Bolden continues to be not only a distraction for the administration, but most importantly to the mission of NASA,” said an administration official, who is not authorized to speak on the record, about Monday’s reprimand. The official could not recall another incident in which a similarly high-level leader was so publicly reprimanded.

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