Bush & Science: Approaching W.'s Last SOTU With Very Low Expectations

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In his most prominent opportunities to speak to the nation over the past near-decade, our president hasn't exactly highlighted matters relating to science (or his administration's various assaults thereupon).

I wouldn't expect much of a change tonight, either.

Still, to prepare yourself to be disappointed, check out this contribution from the Science Progress blog. The little gnomes over there have scanned the texts from Bush's past six speeches for science buzzwords. The results?

While I don't want to give them all away, this is noteworthy: Bush has never yet said the word "stem cell" in a SOTU.

Kind of amazing even for Bush, no?

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Why is, in this picture, Dick Cheney holding an invisible pumpkin?

This picture is disturbing at so many levels:

1) Dick trying to crush the head of an invisible baby :(!
2) W looking like a preschooler waiting for somebody to prompt him his forgotten lines!
3) Nancy Pelosi clapping for the words coming out of W's mouth :0!

Let's hope he'll again make an honest speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYvfxvDwJxA

By Alive Dodo (not verified) on 28 Jan 2008 #permalink

As one of the collaborators on that post, I must say I was delighted to be recognized as a "little gnome". I just hope I am not a gnome of the garden variety.

Hey, I think he actually said it this time -- isn't it cool how a really-early-stage, brand-new breakthrough becomes, in the hands of whoever writes his speeches, the answer to all stem cell research debate?

W is the pride of Yale and Harvard, a true intellectual giant among men that shows the full potential of what our great halls of learning can produce!

(Warning: don't read that just after your dinner).

Chris said "I wouldn't expect much of a change tonight, either."

Oh, there will be change all right. You can count on that! Things will almost certainly get worse over Bush's last year in office, since he no longer has anyone to answer to (not that he ever did to begin with or anything) -- except perhaps his own personal God, of course, who forgives him for all his sins (and spins... and gins).

Over the following year, I expect more like this.

and like this.

Just as Bush is surging in Iraq, he will also be surging here at home (though not in the public opinion polls, of course).

Who is going to stop him?

Congress?

What a joke.

Just look at Nancy Pelosi in the background actually clapping. I realize clapping is a tradition at the SOTU address, but considering what a mess Bush has made of our country over the past 7 years -- a mess that has led to the death of 4000 American troops and God only knows how many thousands of innocent Iraqis--, if anyone deserves the sound of one hand (or one cell door) clapping, it is George W. Bush.

By Dark Tent (not verified) on 29 Jan 2008 #permalink

Christ, relax DT. Pelosi only applauded remarks praising "our troops" or happy talk pronouncements of "liberty". Should she be against our troops and liberty?

I always enjoy the whack-a-mole up and down, clap or stern expression, partisan game that is the State of the Union address.

Pelosi looked like she was sucking a lemon for the first half of the speech.

"Should she be against our troops and liberty?"

Of course, she's a Democrat, isn't she?

"Pelosi looked like she was sucking a lemon for the first half of the speech."

..because she was. For some odd reason, Pelosi keeps sucking those lemons (and rotten ones at that) when she should be throwing them in the garbage.

By Dark Tent (not verified) on 29 Jan 2008 #permalink

While I disapprove of the president as much as any self-respecting liberal, I do credit the president for harping once again on energy independence and mentioning the American Competitiveness Initiative. Even if he only half-heartedly cares about weening America off of foreign oil, it's still important that he talk about it in the SOTU, which he did. At least then maybe his words can inspire somebody else to actually do something.

And as Bush correctly pointed out, it was Congress who didn't fund the American Competitiveness Initiative to double funding for research in the physical sciences. Yeah, Bush signed the bill that didn't fund it, but the war funding was more important to him. That's sad on his behalf, but the democrats in Congress could have put the money in there if THEY really cared.

And a correction: Bush did mention "stem cells" in last night's SUTO. The NY Times article cited by Science Progress was from last year, so it did not analyze the 2008 SOTU. From the list of unmentioned words on their website, he also mentioned "carbon" and "emissions" in this year's address. He also said "science/scientists" four times and "technology/technologies" seven times.

Bush certainly deserves to be criticized harshly, but if you're going to do it, at least check your facts and give him (minimal) credit when it's due.

By Harry Abernathy (not verified) on 29 Jan 2008 #permalink

Harry, exactly how was Chris to know that Bush would mention stem cells in an article he wrote before the address?

I'd judge Chris' prediction that science would get short shrift to be fairly accurate. I especially think LP was right on when noting that Bush displayed his general lack of knowledge of stem cells by touting an important but early result as if it were the definitive end to the stem cell debate.

"I do credit the president for harping once again on energy independence".

Yes, Bush is concerned about that. Hence the plan for a permanent military presence in Iraq.

By Dark Tent (not verified) on 29 Jan 2008 #permalink

Energy independence. Hmmm. If imported oil were cut off today and our proven reserves could be tapped, all vehicular traffic would come to a standstill within 4 years.

By Eric the Leaf (not verified) on 29 Jan 2008 #permalink

I apologize for not noting when the post was written. I should get all my facts straight, too.

On energy independence again, I'll say that while Bush doesn't do as much as he should in terms of supporting research on sustainable energy systems and of getting Americans to significantly cut back on consumption, it's still good that he mentions it in the SOTU address. While the president always uses the SOTU as a laundry list for their own pet topics, it should be more comprehensive and touch on issues that the President may or may not focus on. That way, it gets the American population (at least those who listen to the address, or soundbites of it) to think about all the issues confronting our nation.

And in terms of what he said and didn't say, one should note that he did not mention the phrases "switch grass" or "human-animal hybrids" this time around. With respect to the latter, I'm glad to see that since 2006 we've apparently dealt with the frothing hordes of man-beasts swarming from our nation's labs...

By Harry Abernathy (not verified) on 30 Jan 2008 #permalink