As they say, "We've been to this picture show before."
Think back to 1966, er Stardate 1672.1. While orbiting the planet Alfa 177, the U.S.S. Enterprise experiences a transporter malfunction as Captain Kirk beams aboard. Kirk leaves with his officers and when the transporter room is deserted, a second Kirk materializes on the pad. The rest of the landing party must wait, at risk, on the surface for the problem to be fixed.
One Kirk is good and honorable, the other is evil and runs amok on his ship. As time passes, the "good" Kirk weakens, losing his ability to make decisions, while his "evil" half is dying. Neither Kirk can survive without his other half. Time is running out, not only for Captain Kirk, but for the landing party on the planet's surface.
On TV, the two Kirks are brought back together into one, the landing party is saved, and the Enterprise continues going where no one has gone before.
Theater follows life and, in our case, life is now following theater. The evil Emperor has done his damage. The "landing party" minions are getting into deeper trouble without solid leadership. In reality, any good replacement must have the evil Kirk's ability to make timely decisions. Only when the two halves of authority and responsibility are brought together in one person do we see a leader emerge.
Without benefit of clear, educated, inspired, innovative, dare we say youthful, leadership, the hydra-headed set of external commissions, panels, boards, and reviews that are about to take form will run the risk of grounding our space-faring enterprise for some time to come. Much time will be lost. Think Challenger Commission. Think Columbia Accident Investigation Board. Think downtime.
There is an alternative. And the approach we suggest was successfully implemented over a period of about 60 days after the Apollo 1 fire. Back then, our Agency did not allow itself to lose control of its mandate to reach the moon. Despite pressure from Congress and elsewhere, our Agency's leader did what he was paid to do. He lead the country into accepting the thesis that the Agency would review what went wrong, fix it, and move on to meet the challenges ahead. It did not require grandstanding, career building, or politics to fix the technical problems that just took the life out of the Apollo Program. It took leadership. And it worked.
Mr. President, it is time that you take the time to anoint such a leader. One who is technically competent, able to administrate, and capable of making informed decisions within the constraints of our times. He should seek council, but not let consensus stall our progress. He does not need six degrees, but he should know how to inspire technically competent people to do the seemingly impossible on a daily basis. He requires an ego, but is not consumed by it. We think you know the type.
It is also time for you to reign in those in your own party who would illogically dictate that the needs of the few or the one outweigh the needs of the many.
And when that leader is handed the conn, he should be allowed to review the bidding and formulate a recovery plan from within his own Agency. The only thing that has been missing for the past four years is leadership made from whole cloth. If you pick the right person, we can move forward and inspire the next generation to study hard and aim high. No board, no commission, no panel will fix what is wrong without putting a steady, competent hand at the rudder.
It worked for Apollo. It will work for us today.