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New NASA boss Michael Griffin

The other day I went to the first press conference of the new NASA administrator, Michael Griffin, who has the daunting job of turning around a space agency that's got all sorts of challenges (starting with getting the shuttle flying again). I was struck by how unpretentious Griffin is. He's not terribly charismatic, but by reputation he's extremely competent. It's dangerous to attribute humility to anyone in Washington, since self-deprecation and feigned humility are the crafty tactics of people who want to Rule The World, but Griffin did something I've never seen anyone do in all my seven decades of covering Washington: He said "I don't know." He said things like, "I could try to answer that but I'd be making it up." He reminded us that he's only been in the job three days. But his resume shows he's always been a quick learner, and by the end of the week he'll probably have everything figured out and soon the shuttle will fly and we'll be back on the moon and cruising to Mars and hopping around the Asteroid Belt and so on. This could be the guy who takes us to the stars. First he has to find his office.

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 20, 2005; 10:53 AM ET
 
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