Kudos to Mark Matthews at the Orlando Sentinel for being the first to distill the Washington whisper game about NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden’s second-term prospects into a coherent narrative.

The story, posted Nov. 28, is well-timed to influence a White House personnel office that’s getting ready to turn its attention to President Obama’s sub-cabinet-level personnel picks.

Matthews’ story recounts Bolden’s missteps and off-key remarks and quotes a “senior administration official” saying there are concerns within the White House about Bolden’s ability to advance the president’s agenda.

The only on-the-record comment, besides a written statement from Bolden professing his commitment to “carrying out the ambitious, bipartisan space program agreed to by the President and Congress,” is a quote from Sen. Bill Nelson’s spokesperson saying the Florida Democrat and long-time Bolden friend “fully expects Charlie Bolden to continue as administrator.”

Matthews’ story is definitely worth reading, but definitely read it between the lines. Here’s a quick taste. The rest can be read here.

WASHINGTON — The NASA community is used to asking big questions, but none has loomed larger in recent weeks than this: What will happen to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden?

His future — like that of other agency heads — depends on whether President Barack Obama wants him back for a second term. But the question is especially pertinent in Bolden’s case, as his time at NASA has been marked by several missteps, including an offhand criticism of Obama just before Election Day.

Sources inside Congress and the administration said it’s wholly possible Bolden, 66, stays at NASA into 2013 and beyond. They caution, however, that his return is an open question, as the White House remains concerned whether the former astronaut and Marine Corps major general is committed to Obama’s vision for the space agency.

Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. He was named senior staff writer in 2004, a position he held...