Editor's note: Over the past week or so several items have appeared on NASA Watch detailing Lori Garver's activities on behalf of John Kerry's presidential campaign. Despite the fact that Lori is annoyed with what has appeared here (according to multiple sources) she has yet to ask to address these points on NASA Watch. This could be because she 1. finds me and NASA Watch annoying (understandable - many people do) 2. Ignoring things like this for the next few days will cause them to go away or become moot or 3. what has been posted is accurate and it would be hard to refute.
Alas, Lori has been active via surrogates. One place they have found support is spacepolitics.com, a website run by Jeff Foust, a Futron employee. Foust runs this site and several others - often on company time - with the blessing of his employer. On this one particular series of comments, a number of Garver supporters chime in on what amounts to an online kabuki dance. For the most part no one addresses the substance of what she has said (i.e. the proverbial issues) but rather, everyone (me included) engages in a back and forth armwaving session which degenerates into a slanderfest. This is why I don't allow any unmoderated comments on NASA Watch - I'd spend half my day editing them in order to avoid being sued.
Of course, Garver's supporters prefer to remain anonymous for the most part. Perhaps the most telling example is someone calling themselves "anonspace" who launches into a detailed defense of Garver while dumping on me. Oh well - if I say nasty things I should expect to have nastiness thrown back at me. I replied "I just love it when all these people pile on me with such vigor and bravado - but are too cowardly to use their real names" to which "anonspace" replied "It is because I am an aerospace professional, you idiot. What is your profession?". As if a true "aerospace professional" would call someone an "idiot" and do so anonymously.
Such is the sad state of political discourse within the Washington, DC space community. While the election will cause a lot of this heated, partisan armwaving to evaporate, it will not resolve all of the pent up hostility nor the immaturity with which so much of this discussion goes on. And yes NASA Watch and its editor are part of the problem - not the solution. Until such time as this collective group of otherwise smart, motivated, and impassioned space professionals finds a way to discuss everything out in the open - with attribution (and that includes all of the people who request anonymity when sending things to NASA Watch too) no one is going to take space seriously as an issue - except when it comes to how much pork goes to which state/district. Right now when space supporters - on both sides of the aisle - need to stand up and be counted, nearly all of them run for cover.
Additional Note: Jeff Foust is to be applauded for the sites he runs - which include SpaceToday.net and The Space Review which take a solid, serious look at news and space policy issues on a daily basis. Simultaenous with this posting on NASA Watch Jeff posted a note concerning the issue of anonymous comments.