- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tossing his cap

It’s been a busy eight months for MichaelD. Griffin since he was confirmed by the Senate to be NASA’s new administrator. A native of Aberdeen, Md., he had introduced himself in April as “a simple aerospace engineer from a small town.”

Indeed, he was head of the space department at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in nearby Laurel when President Bush nominated him to lead the space agency, although previously he’d been in charge of NASA’s exploration unit. Needless to say, Mr. Griffin supports Mr. Bush’s vision — not shared by everybody in Washington, given federal budget constraints — to return man to the moon and eventually Mars.

Mr. Griffin touched on that very debate in recent days when delivering the December commencement address at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He told graduates that the United States was on the cusp of a new age of space exploration, one that promises to take robotic pathfinders and pioneering astronauts not just to the moon and Mars, but beyond.

As for naysayers, he recalled some of the last words ever spoken by PresidentKennedy — actually, it was a story that the president told at the aerospace medical facility in San Antonio on Nov. 21, 1963, one day before he was assassinated in Dallas.

“This was a story of which Kennedy was fond, originally told by the Irish writer Frank OConnor, and I think it defines what our space-exploration vision … is all about,” Mr. Griffin said.

Recalled Mr. Kennedy, “O’Connor wrote how, as a boy, he and his friends would make their way across the countryside. When they came to an orchard wall that seemed to high and too doubtful to try and too difficult to permit their voyage to continue, they took off their hats and tossed them over the wall — and then they had no choice but to follow them.”

The president concluded, “This nation has tossed its cap over the wall of space, and we have no choice but to follow it. Whatever the difficulties, they will be overcome. Whatever the hazards, they must be guarded against. With the help of all those who labor in the space endeavor, with the help and support of all Americans, we will climb this wall with safety and with speed — and we shall then explore the wonders on the other side.”

Host and adviser

Franco Nuschese usually makes news by welcoming politicians, diplomats, Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes into his popular Georgetown restaurant, Cafe Milano. It wasn’t long ago, for instance, that former President Bill Clinton and his wife,Hillary, reserved a table for four to celebrate the 58th birthday of the junior senator from New York.

But now we’re here to report that Mr. Nuschese has just been named to the board of advisers of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV). Famed founder and director Dr. Robert Gallo says the Washington restaurateur brings “a wealth of new perspectives and a commitment to IHV’s mission that will be an invaluable asset to the Institute.”

IHV is a center of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, affiliated with the university’s School of Medicine. Its global focus is to find new treatments for chronic viral diseases and virally linked cancers.

Who’s the boss?

Unlike most animals flown across the country this holiday season, presidential dogs and cats are fortunate that they don’t get confined to a cage and stuck in the belly of an airplane.

Which isn’t to say it’s any easier for PresidentBush and First Lady Laura Bush to transport their household pets from Washington to their home in Crawford, Texas, where they all plan to ring in the new year together. We turn to the official White House pool report surrounding the first family’s flights this week aboard Air Force One and the Marine One helicopter.

“The president landed at Andrews [Air Force Base and] emerged from Marine One carrying one of the Bushes’ Scottish terriers, Barney, under his arm,” the report reads. “An aide behind the president struggled to tote a pet carrier, containing the family’s cat, India ‘Willie,’ as well as the Bush family’s other terrier, Miss Beazley.

“Seeing the aide attempt to carry both animals, the president put Barney down at the top of the stairs, turned back and took Miss Beazley. The relatively unencumbered aide then continued up,” it said. “Air Force One landed at Texas State Technical College at 12 p.m. The president carried Barney, and Mrs. Bush toted Miss Beazley to the helicopter. The aide carried the cat.”

Quack, quack

From South Carolina comes word that Gov. Mark Sanford and his Republican colleague, Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, had a successful morning duck hunt yesterday along the banks of Cypress Creek.

“We loaded them up,” says Old Town Alexandria resident Billy Winburn, who joined the pair of politicians for their annual holiday tradition.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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