- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The White House is making a leap toward the final frontier, and they are doing it right. Thursday marks the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council, and as far as power and policy goes, this is a star-studded, innovative event with potential. President Trump’s critics would be wise not to squawk about it; the public remains fascinated, receptive and even patriotic toward space exploration, and this effort emphasizes a trio of unapologetically noble themes: “We will lead again, we will inspire again, we will hold the high ground again.”

Vice President Mike Pence, who is council chairman, will captain the big doings. Also present: Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross; Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao; Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke; Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney; National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster; Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats; Acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot; Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan; Deputy Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Michael Kratsios; and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Paul J. Selva.

But forget the final frontier. This esteemed group is set to explore “the next frontier” — which includes such intriguing ideas as national space enterprise, along with “civil space, commercial space, and national security space.” The gathering of the bigshots will be staged at the spectacular Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center just outside the nation’s capital in Virginia. The industry is also ready for lift-off.

Panelists include Marillyn A. Hewson, Lockheed Martin president and CEO; Dennis A. Muilenburg, Boeing president and CEO; and David W. Thompson, Orbital ATK president and CEO; Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and CEO; Bob Smith, Blue Origin CEO; and Fatih Ozmen, Sierra Nevada Corporation CEO.

Also on hand: Michael D. Griffin, former NASA administrator; retired Admiral James Ellis, former commander, Strategic Command; and Pamela Melroy, Space Shuttle commander. The two-hour event will be livestreamed at 10 a.m. EDT from WhiteHouse.gov and NASA.gov.

CAUTION: 2018 AHEAD

“Democrats, please get ready to lose,” writes New York Times columnist Frank Bruni.

“There’s a saying that what matters isn’t winning or losing. It’s whether you beat the spread. But what’s the spread for Democrats in 2018? Is the spread — which means the predicted margin of victory or defeat — gaining the 24 seats in the House that are necessary for a majority in the chamber? That’s certainly doable. I could argue that it’s probable,” Mr. Bruni advises. “But I could also make the case that Democrats fall five, 10 or 15 seats short. And I could imagine a demoralization that shadows and thereby dooms the party in 2020, when the stakes are even higher.”

A ‘HISTORIC’ ROMNEY SENATE RUN

It could be a matter of days before we find out if Mitt Romney will run for the U.S. Senate seat in Utah. The word from political insiders in the Beehive State is that Mr. Romney would run for Sen. Orrin Hatch’s seat, should the seven-term lawmaker retire. Mr. Hatch has already called the former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate the “perfect” candidate — and a new Utah Policy poll found that Mr. Romney would nab 64 percent of the vote, while Jenny Wilson — a leading Democratic challenger — would get 26 percent.

It would be a historic moment if Mr. Romney wins, this according to Eric Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota professor of politics and a meticulous judge of American voting patterns.

“An analysis of gubernatorial and U.S. Senate biographies finds that Mitt Romney would become just the second U.S. senator in history to have previously served as governor of another state — and the first to do so in more than 150 years,” says Mr. Ostermeier. “The only officeholder who has pulled off this unique feat in U.S. history was famed Tennessean-turned-Texan Sam Houston in the mid-19th century. Houston, who is also the only person ever elected governor by popular vote from two states, was a former lieutenant in the U.S. Army and attorney when he was elected to two terms as U.S. Representative from Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District.”

MR. TROY, SECRETARY IN WAITING

Who should take over as secretary of Heath and Human Services? National Review columnist Jonah Goldberg has a suggestion. He advises President Trump nominate Tevi Troy, who was deputy secretary of Health and Human Services in the George W. Bush administration and a senior White House aide and adviser.

These days, Mr. Troy is currently CEO of the American Health Policy Institute in the nation’s capital, a solutions-oriented policy group — and a historian who has written not one but two books on the challenges of the White House. He also pens thoughtful columns for The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Politico and other snappy publications. Mr. Goldberg has another helpful qualification, though.

“Tevi gets along with and is respected by everybody, knows how the bureaucracy works, and is a dedicated conservative technocrat (in the best sense). Why not go with someone with no electoral ambitions and who knows how to get things done? Some of Trump’s best Cabinet picks have been the apolitical experts. Well, that’s Tevi,” Mr. Goldberg writes.

“And, he has an established history of flying coach when the taxpayers are paying for it,” the columnist adds.

FOXIFIED, EARLY-BIRD EDITION

Call time is now 4 a.m. for the early morning stalwarts at Fox News Channel. the network has bolstered its earliest early-morning lineup, expanding “Fox & Friends First” to two hours, airing from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. EDT. Beginning Monday, the new offering will be anchored by Heather Childers, Jillian Mele and Rob Schmitt leading into three hours of “Fox & Friends.” The changes also signal that Fox News has more women anchoring programs between 4 a.m. and midnight than its cable news competition.

POLL DU JOUR

• 78 percent of Americans disapprove of student violence to prevent controversial speakers from appearing on campus; 86 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of independents and 75 percent of Democrats agree.

• 63 percent of Americans overall disapprove of student groups shouting to disrupt speakers at campus events; 76 percent of Republicans, 63 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats agree.

• 56 percent overall say colleges should restrict use of slurs which offend some groups on campus; 55 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of independents and 70 percent of Democrats agree.

• 52 percent say colleges should restrict costumes on campus which offend racial or ethnic groups; 51 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 24-25 and released Wednesday.

• Churlish remarks, polite suggestions to [email protected]

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