I swear, the Bushies know how to pick ’em. Andrew Revkin reports in today’s New York Times:
George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters’ access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word “theory” at every mention of the Big Bang, resigned yesterday, agency officials said.
Mr. Deutsch’s resignation came on the same day that officials at Texas A&M University confirmed that he did not graduate from there, as his rÃ©sumÃ© on file at the agency asserted.
Reading between the lines, ones suspects NASA scientists had been complaining about Mr. Deutsch:
The resignation came as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was preparing to review its policies for communicating science to the public. The review was ordered Friday by Michael D. Griffin, the NASA administrator, after a week in which many agency scientists and midlevel public affairs officials described to The New York Times instances in which they said political pressure was applied to limit or flavor discussions of topics uncomfortable to the Bush administration, particularly global warming.
The 24-year-old Deutsch was given a job writing for the NASA public affairs office after working on Bush’s re-election campaign and inauguration committee. He had claimed to have a Bachelor degree in journalism from Texas A&M, which says he doesn’t. A copy of Mr. Deutsch’s resume had been forwarded to the New York Times by “someone working in NASA headquarters.” This someone and others at NASA told the NY Times that “Mr. Deutsch played a small but significant role in an intensifying effort at the agency to exert political control over the flow of information to the public.”
But the real issue, as expressed by Scott Shields at MyDD:
Pardon me for a moment, but what in the hell?!?! How on Earth (no pun intended) does a 24 year old kid who didn’t even finish college get to work for NASA in a position where he has control over information to such a degree? Yes, to that’s somewhat of a rhetorical question. Of course I know the answer is that he was a Bush appointee. (Heckuva job, Deutschy.) But what I really don’t understand is why a position like this is filled by political appointment. There should be no politics whatsoever involved in NASA’s press office. It’s absolutely absurd to me that this is the way things are handled down there.
It’s not startling to me that a 24-year-old might have gotten an entry-level writer’s job in the public affairs office, but it’s astonishing that the little twerp actually was calling the shots about what the public affairs office was sending to the public. You’d expect that someone with that kind of authority would have a little more seniority. But Deutsch, apparently, was sending directives to NASA scientists without going through a supervisor.
In other Brownie News, Warren P. Strobel of Knight Ridder reports that old-hand weapons experts are leaving the State Department in droves.
State Department officials appointed by President Bush have sidelined key career weapons experts and replaced them with less experienced political operatives who share the White House and Pentagon’s distrust of international negotiations and treaties.
The reorganization of the department’s arms control and international security bureaus was intended to help it better deal with 21st-century threats. Instead, it’s thrown the agency into turmoil and produced an exodus of experts with decades of experience in nuclear arms, chemical weapons and related matters, according to 11 current and former officials and documents obtained by Knight Ridder.
The reorganization was conducted largely in secret by a panel of four political appointees. A career expert was allowed to join the group only after most decisions had been made. Its work was overseen by Frederick Fleitz, a CIA officer who was detailed to the State Department as senior adviser to former Undersecretary of State John Bolton, a critic of arms agreements and international organizations. [emphasis added]
Maybe we should just change the name of Washington, DC to “Mayberry, home of the Mayberry Machiavellis” and be done with it.
Update: Eric Alterman writes,
Is it the incompetence? The ideology? The Dishonesty? Every day we find these three defining characteristics of the Bush Administration in competition with one another to define its most essential quality. Everyone in this government is Michael Brown, from George W. Bush right on down. Todayâ€™s Exhibit A is George C. Deutsch, the young presidential appointee at NASA who told public affairs workers to limit reporters’ access to a top climate scientist and told a Web designer to add the word “theory” at every mention of the Big Bang. Turns out the 24 year old writer and editor in NASA’s public affairs office lied about, get this, graduating college. And this lying little pisher was telling James E. Hansen what he could and couldnâ€™t say about the science of Global Warming. Really, would James Frey even dare make these people up? Doesnâ€™t every single person in the country who ever said a word about George W. Bushâ€™s â€œcompetenceâ€ owe an apology to every single other person in the world? (Plus the little twerpâ€™s a polar bear killer.)