The PJ Tatler

Houston's Democrat mayor: Yes, the shuttle decision was political

There’s rage today in the HTX.

Shuttle astronauts all trained in Houston and perhaps 25 to 35 still live here, said Bob Mitchell, president of Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, which helped lead the city’s bid to secure a retiring shuttle.

“It doesn’t make sense at all,” he said.

Mitchell said President Obama’s re-election bid factored into NASA’s choosing locations in Florida and California. Houston Mayor Annise Parker struck a similar tone, saying the decision was largely expected since the White House hinted “Houston would not be a winner in this political competition.”

“There was no other city with our history of human space flight or more deserving of a retiring orbiter,” Parker said in a statement.

I rarely agree with Parker, but she’s quite right here. Politics just about always factors into calls like this to some extent, but we’re talking about American history here. The world’s only surviving dreadnought, Battleship Texas is moored near Houston at the San Jacinto battlefield park, a 1947 gift from the US Navy to the people of the state. That ship is the last surviving vessel in the world that fought in both world wars. Having a real space shuttle at JSC — which shuttle doesn’t matter — could have put more than 150 years of Texas and American history within a nice tight day trip in the nation’s fourth largest city. Visitors could have gone from the Texas revolution through the world wars and into space in one day or weekend, all by experiencing the actual battlefield and genuine artifacts. The Obama admin could also have built up a little goodwill in Texas by emulating the Navy’s gesture, and done right by history at the same time, but they chose politics instead.

This decision was predictable, of course. We are talking about an administration that went out of its way to show disrespect to the British by returning Churchill’s bust, and has used the federal bureaucracy to wage economic attacks on Texas on two fronts, via the EPA and the oil drilling permitorium. This decision is, as much as anything else, yet another Obama poke in the eye to Texas. It hasn’t gone unnoticed. It should be investigated, and overturned.