Bush’s Actions Louder than SOTU Words

In his last state of the union address, President Bush glossed over the seriousness of some of the most pressing problems facing our country, and suggested they could be solved with something that’s been in short supply during his tenure.

“Global climate change” got one brief mention, as something that the nation is committed to confronting with cleaner and more energy-efficient technology. Unacceptable rates of uninsurance and spiraling healthcare costs were obliquely referenced with a stated goal of “making health care more affordable and accessible for all Americans.” Bush invoked technology as the cure for our energy and health care woes, and said this about the energy, medical, and physical sciences research that’s required:

• “To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology.”

• “We must trust in the innovative spirit of medical researchers and empower them to discover new treatments while respecting moral boundaries.”

• “To keep America competitive into the future, we must trust in the skill of our scientists and engineers and empower them to pursue the breakthroughs of tomorrow.”

In short, we’ve got to trust the scientists.

Bush’s appointees seem to have missed this memo. Over the past few years, reports of Bush administration interference with science have rolled in with an alarming frequency:

In these cases, Bush appointees evidently didn’t trust researchers or doctors enough to let them communicate their unedited views to government officials, media, or the public. (I’m not even getting into the many policy decisions – ranging from over-the-counter approval for an emergency contraceptive to California’s emission standards request — in which officials ignored scientists’ advice.)

Bush is right that it’s important to trust scientists as they work on pressing environmental and health challenges. Maybe if he’d followed this advice for the past seven years, our union’s environment and health would be in a less sorry state.

Comments

  1. #1 mcclaud
    January 30, 2008

    Mind you, the President is actually more steered by his Administration. So often, I find that his people do things he probably doesn’t understand half the time. Cheney’s people are the ones who challenged the junk food study.

    I think sometimes they give him a canned description of the blocking action and say, “Here Mr. President – sign this.”

    It might help if Bush was slightly more intelligent and personable.

  2. #2 Liz
    January 30, 2008

    I agree that Bush probably isn’t aware of a lot of what his officials are doing, but he certainly seems to approve of the policy of pandering to industry and religious ultra-conservatives.

    What we need is a president with better priorities *and* a better group of administration officials.

  3. #3 Tasha
    January 30, 2008

    Exactly. I find it hard to believe that Bush is completely unaware of what is going on, so the “it’s not him, it’s his administration” argument doesn’t really hold water to me. We’re not talking about a few obscure decisions made by certain low-level staffers. We’re talking about decisions that are so momentous that governors from a number of states are suing the federal government. How could he not be involved on at least some level?

  4. #4 mcclaud
    January 31, 2008

    The man barely knows what is going on in other countries (like Dafur) until other people fill him in on it.

    I don’t forgive him for being negligent and allowing his constituents run his office, because he trusts and appoints these people to work for him on greater levels than just advising him. If anything, I’m sure his Cabinet is pretty weasily when they also do things like try to cover up pertinent research. The office of the Vice Pres is pretty quick to evoke the powers of Executive as well.

    The guy is ineffective. Not overly “common sense” bright, and not really willing to work with others outside his beliefs. It’s kinda hard to believe that such a lame duck can do so much on his own.

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