The sharp-eyed Keith Cowing, the purveyor of one of the more entertaining sites on the Internet, NASA Watch, has noticed that Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida has cosponsored a bill called the U.S.-Israel Space Cooperation Act, along with Sen Gary Peters, D-MI, Sen Ted Cruz. R-Texas, and Sen Cory Booker, R-Colorado. In Cowing’s view, this is significant because the House version of this bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma. Nelson has led a campaign to deny Bridenstine a confirmation for the post of NASA Administrator.

Cowing wonders, in part, “Yet Sen.

Nelson is now openly crowing about space legislation that he is co-sponsoring - legislation originally co-authored by Rep. Bridenstine. So one would conclude that Nelson likes Bridenstine's space politics (at least in some instances). Who knows. Maybe they agree on other things too.” Apparently a lesson in how politics works is in order.

The real reason Nelson is opposing Bridenstine

We have already delved into the real reason why Sen. Nelson is opposing Rep, Bridenstine. However, to recap, the fact that the gentleman from Oklahoma is being painted as a right-wing boogieman is the least of the reasons. Bridenstine, as an experienced politician with well-developed ideas about returning to the moon and commercial space partnerships, would be just a tad too independent for Nelson’s taste.

Nelson would prefer a NASA administrator willing to take direction from the senior senator from Florida and therefore serve his interests rather than that of NASA or the United States.

Why is Bridenstine supporting space cooperation with Israel?

Bridenstine is supporting space cooperation with Israel, partly because as a conservative Republican he regards the Jewish state as a firm American ally and partly because it would be sound policy.

Israel has become a technological power and has launched space satellites. SpaceIl, one of the competitors in the former Google Lunar XPrize, is still attempting to land on the moon and hopes to accomplish that fete in due course. Israel has a lot of expertise that would prove useful for America’s space plans, including the return to the moon.

What about Nelson?

Sen. Nelson may be a partisan, political hack, but even he occasionally knows good policy when he sees it. He also knows good politics when he sees it. Jewish voters are an important demographic in Florida and, while they tend to be overwhelmingly Democratic, Nelson is going to need for them to turn out in significant numbers if he hopes to be reelected this year. Florida Jewish voters went for Hillary Clinton in large numbers in the last presidential election, even though she is associated with former President Obama’s decidedly anti-Israel policies. President Trump still carried Florida, however. Thus Nelson finds it useful to paint himself as a friend of Israel, hence his support for legislation that a man he has savagely attacked is also supporting. The fact has no bearing on Nelson’s opposition to Bridenstine’s appointment.