What’s amazing is they rank Newt first at the same time acknowledging he destroyed the Office of Technology Assessment.
Jon Huntsman may have the most rational scientific and technological policies of anyone in the field, but Gingrich, sometimes called Newt Skywalker, has far more passion. As Kelefa Sanneh argues in the current issue, the philosophy of Gingrichism is nothing but a combination of the idiosyncratic views of the man himself–which include his beliefs in the virtues of space exploration and his opposition to regulating the Internet, even when it comes to porn. He was an early adopter of Twitter, and he once made the cover of Wired. He is ranked atop Scientific American’s recent “Geek Guide” to the 2012 candidates. As Sanneh notes, one of Gingrich’s manifestos about information policy includes a preface by the science-fiction writer Jerry Pournelle, declaring, “It’s raining soup, and Newt Gingrich has the blueprints for soup bowls.”
His record is scarcely perfect. As Speaker, Gingrich abolished the Office of Technology Assessment–a move reminiscent of Nixon abolishing the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. But, for the most part, Gingrich has moved policy in the right directions. And he gets extra credit for sitting on the couch with Nancy Pelosi to talk about global warming.
So, he destroyed the office in congress that used science to evaluate legislation, as well as the efficacy of that legislation once enacted. He removed scientific guidance from the legislative branch, but because he’s passionate about the internets that doesn’t make him the worst thing to happen to science in the last 30 years?
I realize we’re looking for the shiny turd in a cowpie here, but Gingrich? No way. Huntsman should be ranked first because he at least acknowledges global warming is real, a brave stand to take amongst a bunch of deniers. Whereas Gingrich dumped that chapter from his book after Rush Limbaugh suggested he might actually be on the side of reality. What’s going to matter more in the next 4 years? A president that took a brave stance on regulating internet porn? Or one that took a stance on global warming?
None of these guys has any scientific chops but that seems too much to ask in politicians on either side these days. But this analysis by the New Yorker is embarrassingly superficial.