Good ol’ UK-based Nature has a special section dedicated to the US election. I’m not surprised — the whole world has a stake in this one, and I sure hope we don’t disappoint them, for our sake and theirs. Both presidential candidates were asked their opinion on various issues of science policy, and the answers are publicly available, in two parts. Unsurprisingly, only Obama bothered to reply; in an attempt to be fair, Nature dug through McCain’s old speeches to charitably cobble up the kind of answers he might have given if a) he weren’t an incompetent old coot who can’t get his act together, b) he actually cared what the universe outside the right-wing electorate thought, and c) he wasn’t going to heedlessly gut science as quickly as possible if given the opportunity.
If only they’d gotten Sarah Palin to submit something…but since Nature is not Punch, they probably thought that throwing a comedy routine into a prestigious science journal would be inappropriate.
I did like this short, sweet answer:
Do you believe that evolution by means of natural selection is a sufficient explanation for the variety and complexity of life on Earth? Should intelligent design, or some derivative thereof, be taught in science class in public schools?
Obama: I believe in evolution, and I support the strong consensus of the scientific community that evolution is scientifically validated. I do not believe it is helpful to our students to cloud discussions of science with non-scientific theories like intelligent design that are not subject to experimental scrutiny.
(Before you jump on him about using the word “believe”, read this.)
I also thought this one was very good. Science is an international enterprise, but it would be selfishly nice if my country did more to recruit and support it.
Would it make sense for more overseas students who receive PhDs at American universities to stay in the country and contribute to its research base and its wealth? What immigration reforms would you support?
Obama: I believe that we must enact comprehensive immigration reform to restore our economic strength, relieve local governments of unfair burdens stemming from an inefficient federal immigration system, ensure that our country and borders remain secure and allow a path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants who are willing to pay a fine, pay taxes, and learn English. A critical part of comprehensive immigration reform is turning back misguided policies that since 9/11 have turned away the world’s best and brightest from America. As president, I will improve our legal permanent resident visa programmes and temporary programmes to attract some of the world’s most talented people to America.
My enthusiasm is not unreserved, but I know exactly who I’ll be voting for in November.