Charlie Bolden Has Fleas?

Posted on Thu 07/15/2010 by


By Paul Hollrah

NASA Director Charles Bolden

Until recent days, few Americans recognized the name Charles F. Bolden, Jr. A few, very few, would have known that he is the current Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), appointed to that position by Barack Obama on May 23, 2009.

But now almost every living American has at least heard the name. Why? Did he announce some bold new adventure in space… a project as audacious as JFK’s May 1961 announcement that we would land a man on the moon within a decade? No. Did he announce a major scientific breakthrough… a byproduct of American space exploration? No. Charles Bolden’s name will go down in history, not for anything he did relative to NASA’s original core mission, but for a remark he made in a June 17 interview with al Qaeda’s principal mouthpiece, Al Jazeera,

On a goodwill trip to the Middle East, Bolden told Al Jazeera reporter Imram Garda, “I am here in the region – it’s sort of the first anniversary of President Barack Obama’s visit to Cairo and his speech there when he gave what has now become known as Obama’s “Cairo Initiative” – where he announced that he wanted this to become a new beginning of the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world.

“When I became the NASA Administrator… he charged me with three things: One was that he wanted me to re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, that he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with predominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”

Not knowing anything about Charles F. Bolden, Jr., most Americans would probably assume from that profoundly foolish comment that he is just another of Obama’s Chicago political hacks… another America-hating Van Jones or Rahm Emanuel. But that’s not who Charles Bolden is. He is far more than that.

John Getter, longtime “Space Reporter” for Houston’s KHOU-TV during the 1980s and ‘90s, knew Bolden well, and the things he knows and remembers about Bolden should be known by all fair-minded Americans.

Getter recalls, “When the space shuttle program came to life in 1981, it rekindled a great passion in America and Americans. It is our birthright, tradition and habit to explore, to test limits, to try new things and go to new places.

“We create amazing machines to do so, or perfect the underdeveloped tool that changes mankind. We did not invent the horse-drawn wagon, but we conquered and settled an entire continent using them. Americans did not invent the (automobile), but we perfected its manufacture and made it useful for billions of people. We did not invent the airplane, but we made it work. And, we did not invent rockets or spaceflight, but with the shuttle we opened up a new era when common people could do the amazing – travel at Mach 25, 5 miles every second, and circle the Earth to live and work in space.”

Getter reminds us that, “In 1985, President Reagan… recognizing the tremendous political power, prestige and privilege of flying in space, especially in the under-developed world… made good on a deal with our new friends in Saudi Arabia and invited Prince Sultan Salman Al-Saud to be part of the crew of STS 51-G.  The first Arab to fly in space had a significant effect on our relations with many Arabs.  It had a big impact in Saudi Arabia.  It made this Arab Prince appear accepted as an equal by the world’s greatest advanced nation.

“Back then, Charlie Bolden was one of the astronauts we all grew to truly admire.  This now-retired Marine General meets the standard of ‘an officer and a gentleman’ as well as anyone who has ever worn a uniform.  He was a highly respected astronaut among a batch of 200 of the brightest over-achievers in the world.  He is an intensely spiritual and religious man and I am proud to count him among my friends.”

That is why Getter is deeply saddened by the story of Bolden’s interview with Al Jazeera.

Getter explains, “That President Obama told Bolden to reach out and use the space program as a tool to build bridges with all sorts of people is not a new idea and is certainly a reasonable thing to undertake.  But, to ask him to do so at the same time he had cancelled the shuttle, cancelled a return to the Moon and effectively cancelled the NASA manned space program for at least the next decade, probably longer, is disheartening and un-American.

“And, just as the President has become so adept at blaming others for any failure while tap dancing to avoid taking responsibility for almost every problem, Charlie Bolden now takes the heat for saying a prime goal of the American space program is to gain influence with adversaries and friends…

“Charlie Bolden’s comments are a reminder of what we could do, what we could be and how we could continue to help create a better world.  He could make it happen if he had the political backing of national will.  That his comments ring hollow and make him appear nearly foolish to many shows the tragedy of having an American President who thinks we are unexceptional, arrogant to assume we can lead and too poor to tell our children there is more to see, to do and to learn…”

Yes, the things that Charlie Bolden said in his Al Jazeera interview did make him appear foolish. It made him appear to be just another political hack that Obama dredged up from the seemingly bottomless cesspool that is the Chicago Democratic machine.

Charlie Bolden deserves far better than that. After graduating from high school in 1964 he received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1968 with a degree in Electrical Science. As a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, he was assigned to flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station and in 1970 he received his naval aviator wings.

Assigned to combat duty in Southeast Asia from June 1972 to June 1973, Bolden flew more than 100 combat missions over Laos, Cambodia, and North and South Vietnam.

In 1980, Bolden was selected as a member of NASA’s astronaut corps, where he served until 1994. During his 14 years as a NASA astronaut, Bolden served as a crew member on four space missions, logging more than 680 hours in space. He served as shuttle pilot on STS-61C (January 12-18, 1986) and STS-31 (April 24-29, 1990), and as mission commander on STS-45 (March 24 to April 2, 1992) and STS-60 (February 3-11, 1994). It was the STS-31 mission in April 1990 that placed the Hubble Space Telescope into Earth orbit.

Bolden left the astronaut corps, returning to active military duty as Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy. He retired from active military service in August 2004 with the rank of Major General.

During his career in the Marine Corps and as a NASA astronaut, Bolden was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the NASA Space Flight Medal, the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon, the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. He also wears the wings of a navy aviator and the Navy Astronaut Badge.

To think that such a man could be made subordinate to a “community organizer” from Chicago and that he could be used as a messenger to carry an un-American message to the Muslim world is unthinkable. But that is what Charles Bolden has been called upon to do by Barack Obama. By being a “good soldier” in the service of Barack Obama, Charlie Bolden has proven once again that, to “lie down with dogs is to get up with fleas.” Bolden is a fine man in every respect and deserves much better than to be embraced by the likes of Barack Obama. Contributing Editor Paul Hollrah is a Senior Fellow at the Lincoln Heritage Institute.

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