Much has been made of the omission of the President’s new space initiative from his State of the Union address in January. On at least one occasion NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe defended the omission because the President had devoted an entire speech to the plan less than a week earlier and because the address is not a “tick list” of all the President’s initiatives. However, the New York Times reports Sunday that any mention of the plan in the speech may have been removed at the behest of Karen Hughes, the former White House communications director who still serves as an advisor to the President:
Ms. Hughes also advocated dropping from the State of the Union address any mention of the president’s ambitious proposal to send humans to Mars, which was attacked by members of his own party as extravagant folly. “At some level the policy gesture didn’t pass the communications straight-face test,” the Bush adviser said.
(The advisor quoted above is an unnamed Bush advisor that the article says earlier “asked not to be named because he did not want to be seen as criticizing Mr. [Karl] Rove,” who reportedly had a less-than-cordial relationship with Hughes when both worked in the White House.) Given that the proposal didn’t “pass the communications straight-face test” less than a week after its introduction, one wonders when—if ever—it will.