Tulsa’s U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine has impressive credentials.
Education? Bridenstine holds bachelor’s degrees in economics, psychology and business from Rice University. He later earned a master’s degree in business administration from Cornell University.
Military experience? Bridenstine served as a pilot in the U.S. Navy Reserve for nine years.
Leadership? In addition to serving Oklahoma’s First Congressional District for the past five years, Bridenstine is the former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium.
When Bridenstine’s resume landed in the hands of the current commander in chief, President Donald Trump thought Bridenstine was another one of the “best people” to add to his staff. Eight months after coming into office, the president announced his intent to name the Republican politician to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), according to NewsOK.com.
The NASA administrator serves as the senior space science adviser to the president and leads the federal agency and manages its resources, according to Newsweek.
Is Bridenstine the best man for the job? Given that most past administrators have been scientists and not politicians, the appointment raises a few eyebrows. As a cabinet-level official, the NASA administrator must receive Senate confirmation.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Florida, told Newsweek Bridenstine “could be devastating for the space program.”
“It’s the one federal mission which has largely been free of politics, and it’s at a critical juncture in its history,” Rubio told Newsweek. “I would hate to see an administrator held up — [on grounds of] partisanship, political arguments, past votes or statements made in the past — because the agency can’t afford it and it can’t afford the controversy.”
Oklahoma U.S. Sens. James Lankford and Jim Inhofe don’t see it that way.
“As a former administrator of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium, Jim Bridenstine’s lifelong passion for space, combined with his work in Congress on modernizing our nation’s space program, will serve him well at NASA,” Inhofe, R-Tulsa, told NewsOK.com.
Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, added, “His background in aviation and space, coupled with his commitment to fiscal responsibility, make him an excellent choice for NASA administrator.”
No one can deny that Bridenstine comes from an impressive background, which does include authoring bills related to the space sector. In confirmation hearings, should senators ask the 42-year-old congressman about his qualifications in science or engineering, they wouldn’t get much of an answer.
Perhaps senators’ next questions should be on global warming, as NASA is the world’s leading climate research agency. Will Bridenstine join former Oklahoma Attorney General and current Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt in dismissing climate change as a hoax? It’s practically written in the stars.