I guess we should be glad that Senator Clinton has a plan to end the Republican War on Science. It needs to be done and she is right to do this, but it’s sort of like getting excited that someone boldly supports the notion that 2 + 2 = 4. Clinton announced yesterday that:
Hillary will restore the federal government’s commitment to science by:
* Signing an Executive Order that:
o Rescinds President Bush’s ban on ethical embryonic stem cell research and promotes stem cell research that complies with the highest ethical standards.
o Bans political appointees from altering or removing scientific conclusions in government publications without any legitimate basis for doing so, and prohibits unwarranted suppression of public statements by government scientists.
o Directs all department and agency heads to submit annual reports on the steps they have taken to (1) safeguard against instances of political pressure threatening scientific integrity; and (2) promote openness and transparency in decision-making.
o Reverses President Bush’s new directive that dramatically expands political appointees’ control over agency rulemaking.
o Revives and expands the national assessment on climate change, going above and beyond the requirements imposed by Congress.
* Restoring the science advisor’s direct access to the President.
* Working to re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment.
* Protecting the integrity and independence of federal scientific advisory committees.
* Strengthening whistleblower protections for those who disclose potential instances of political interference with science.
Hillary will enhance American leadership in space, including:
* Pursuing an ambitious 21st century Space Exploration Program, by implementing a balanced strategy of robust human spaceflight, expanded robotic spaceflight, and enhanced space science activities.
* Developing a comprehensive space-based Earth Sciences agenda, including full funding for NASA’s Earth Sciences program and a space-based Climate Change Initiative that will help us secure the scientific knowledge we need to combat global warming.
* Promoting American leadership in aeronautics by reversing funding cuts to NASA’s and FAA’s aeronautics R&D budget.
Hillary will promote a nationwide commitment to innovation by:
* Establishing a $50-billion Strategic Energy Fund to invest in technologies to promote conservation, combat global warming, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
* Pursuing a comprehensive innovation agenda to enhance the nation’s research capacity; help ensure we continue to have a premier science, engineering, technology and mathematics workforce; and upgrade our innovation infrastructure.
These are good proposals*. It’s just too bad that after eight years of Republicanism that they have to be made at all.
This also demonstrates why I don’t think Clinton is the best nominee: she only supports nearly certain positions. There is no doubt in my mind that, if the Democrats keep the House and Senate (which is another reason I don’t want Clinton to be the nominee–I think she will hurt us there), this commitment would be supported by the Congress (obviously, the executive order doesn’t need Congress’ support). But does anyone think, that with a minimal amount of prodding, any of the other Democratic nominees wouldn’t support an identical initiative?
I realize that politics is the art of the possible, but sometimes one has to be willing to push, fight, and make enemies. While Senator Clinton is tough enough to weather the abuse given her, she hasn’t established herself as someone who is willing to fight for a difficult position. No professional politician can do that all the time (or even most of the time), but he or she has to do it occasionally. I’m not sure Clinton would.
*Somebody’s been reading The Republican War on Science.
An aside: Call me old school, but I wish Senator Clinton would stop referring to herself as “Hillary.”
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