The most sensible course of action, one which we have called for before in these pages, would be to use the shuttle for a handful of critical missions—like saving the Hubble Space Telescope—before retiring the fleet for good. ...The money saved by retiring the shuttle early, more than $20 billion through the end of the decade, would free NASA to speed the development of the powerful new heavy-lift launch vehicle it is planning, which could in turn be used to complete the station. Finishing the station with the shuttle is like hiring a workman to move ten tons of bricks across town in a small wagon even though you know you’re going to buy a pick-up truck in a few months anyway; it makes much more sense just to get the pick-up truck early and move the bricks more quickly once you have it.
Unfortunately, as he mentions, there is too much politically for Congress to loose by such an act. How many Congressmen's consituents would loose jobs from doing something like this?
Of course they won't think of how many more jobs they will create - that's not important. It's all about welfare for aerospace and science nerds.
Politically there is no way that something like this can happen. The only thing that can be done, is to venture ahead and take every set back as an opportunity to cut back on another mission of the Shuttle... We may not be able to retire the Shuttle tomorow, but we can sure nudge it's death date sooner.
And, by the looks of it, Griffin seems to be doing just that.