NASA Watch is carrying a story about NASA Administrator Mike Griffin’s comments about shaming or exiling those space “supporters” who criticize NASA. I agree with Griffin. Some may believe that such comments by Griffin will force him to leave NASA. But don’t think for a second that if the President or his top staff, or anyone who has worked in a business, hear Griffin’s comments, they will disagree with him one bit. Anyone, such as these folks, who comes from the business world, much less the Republican Party, understands exactly what Griffin is saying, however obvious it might be.
Why are businesses more often successful than government in getting things done? Why have Republicans more often than Democrats occupied the White House? Focus. Once a decision is made, everyone from past critics to supporters of that decision all work as one to make that decision reality. Does anyone believe that Apple’s Steve Jobs tolerates the sort of behavior that NASA gets from space “supporters” every day? Could it be that such is the reason that Apple is one of the most successful companies in the world?
Dissent is something you do during the decision-making phase. Implicit in the quote you posted from NASA is that, yes, all voices and opinions need to be heard–while NASA is trying to formulate a mission, a policy, or a goal. But once a decision has been made, all stakeholders should know that the time for dissent has ended and now comes the time to work together. To paraphrase Franklin, “Together we may survive, but apart we shall surely die.” This advice is as valid today as it was in 1776.
NASA is lead on our space program. Within NASA, smart people, with resources and experience few if any of us have and acting in good faith, made decisions that, if funded, will get us back in orbit and to the Moon. To fulfil this goal, NASA needs the full and unwavering public support of all of those who claim to support space exploration. Short of another Boisjoly moment, those having a problem with NASA’s decisions should take that up privately with NASA or, depending upon whether he/she supports funding for space exploration, their Congressman, certainly not with the press.
I have never for the life of me understood how those in the space community can come to the conclusion that bashing NASA is good for space exploration and the funding behind it. Maybe shaming or banishing these “supporters” is the only way to stop this nonsense so that we can get back to the Moon and move beyond, and do so before the 21st Century is over.