Saturday, October 06, 2007

An important step

I am somewhat lukewarm on the current batch of presidential candidates in the US. The Republican candidates are repulsive, each in their own ways, but the Democratic candidates are not really impressive either. One of the big problems with the Democratic candidates is their tendency to wear their religion on their selves - Edwards and Obama makes frequent references to their religion, and while Clinton does it less, she has strong religious ties, as Mother Jones documented in this article. That doesn't mean that each of the Democratic candidates could not be perfectly good presidents, but given the tendency under the Bush administration to give precedence to religion over science, it's a worrisome connection.

Now, Clinton has stepped forward, and declared that she would protect science from politics (including, I presume, religious inspired politics). The NY Times reports on it.

Clinton Says She Would Shield Science From Politics

In a stinging critique of Bush administration science policy, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York said yesterday that if she were elected president she would require agency directors to show they were protecting science research from “political pressure” and that she would lift federal limits on stem cell research.

Given the fact that stem cell research is one of the hot political issues among the religious right, this is an open declaration that she won't bow to their political wishes. And the next paragraph of the article gives me further hope.

Mrs. Clinton, a leading Democratic presidential candidate, also committed herself to a space-based climate research project to combat global warming and pledged to spend $50 billion on fighting climate change and finding energy alternatives to foreign oil.

Global warming is the most important scientific issue at the moment, and the complete lack of political will to combat it in the US, is a major problem. The fact that Clinton is openly stating that there should be done more about it, is a very good sign. Unfortunately, I am cynical enough to believe that most of those dollars will go to pork projects.

Nevertheless, good things all, and she continued in the same vein.

Mrs. Clinton said she would restore the office of White House science adviser to the higher status it held in the administrations of her husband and President Bush’s father. And she said she would encourage Congress to revive its Office of Technology Assessment, an advisory group that was shut down in 1995 after Republicans in Congress withdrew its financing.

Something that will please the many US science bloggers, who are openly campaigning for the restoration of the Office of Technology Assessment.

She also backed up evolution, and explained that the process is still going on today.

I sincerely hope that the other Democratic candidates will back up these ideas, and that the Democratic dominated Congress will follow her advice on the Office of Technology Assessment.

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