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What scares me most about President Bush

By March 1, 2004politics

I’m not a Bush-basher. I voted for him in the last election, and while I didn’t agree with his decision to invade Iraq, I don’t believe it was based on some shameless quest for cheap oil or whatever other extremist theory you want to subscribe to (it was a decision obviously not supported by good espionage, but since George Tenet was appointed by a Democrat it’s hard to blame that error entirely on the Republicans).

But, speaking of ‘extremists,’ there is at least one thing about Bush that does bother me. His religiously-influenced bias against important scientific research. Glenn Reynold’s most recent TechCentralStation column pretty much lays out the problem. The thing I’d add to Glenn’s observations is this: the United States is not the only place where this sort of research can be conducted. If other countries get ahead of the U.S. in doing bioresearch then it’s going to be a black eye for us. Imagine if our response to the 1960’s Soviet space initiative had been driven by deeply religious people who believed that it was immoral to put men into space?

Countries that have the capacity to advance themselves with scientific knowledge, but choose not to, tend not to evolve. It is interesting that we deride the religiously-driven politics in a countries like Iraq, but yet we fail to see that we ourselves are not entirely free from the same tendency. We are blind to this tendency (and the potential harm) just as the religious radicals in the Middle East are oblivious to their short-sightedness. Somehow the fervent belief that God is on your side (as opposed to anyone else’s) is a hard myopia to escape from.

So, anyway, I’ve decided I’m not going to vote for President Bush next year. I’m very concerned about letting people with dogmatic religious beliefs make decisions that have a significant effect on scientific research, especially bioresearch which holds the promise of great advances in curing disease. If the concern about bioresearch were coming from scientists who are analyzing the problem scientifically that’d be one thing, but since when have religious types ever provided insight into problems created by science? The more feverish their objections the less likely the concern is based on sober thought, but rather on ‘moral concerns’ about what is correct according to some religious doctrine.

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be ‘moral concerns’ about bioresearch, but do the religious guys think they have a monopoly on all moral questions? Apparently so.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

6 Comments

  • TPB, Esq. says:

    More importantly, how can I get a monopoly on all immoral questions? What more need I do to debauch myself?

    I have the same concerns as you, Ernie. I have not decided that I am not going to vote for Bush yet, as I have not yet decided how I will vote. I find myself generally unpleased with all of the available candidates. Well, most. I merely disagree with Edwards. I can’t say I dislike him. Except for his damnable hair.

  • Theo says:

    I think that if you look at the way in which the intelligence was construed it becomes more and more obvious that the administration was distorting it to support their own point of view. The national intelligence estimates for the number of WMDs in Iraq follow a steep upward curve after GWB took office. Scott Ritter had said that he hadn’t seen any evidence that Iraq had any WMD at the time that he resigned. The intelligence estimates were revised upwards based on debriefings of Iraqi defectors who clearly had an axe to grind with Saddam, and weapons inspectors who conducted inspections in Iraq based on the debriefings said the intelligence was basically worthless. The Bush administration doesn’t care about science unless the scientists can produce results that agree with administration policy ideologically.

  • oyster says:

    What scares me most about Bush is the way he thinks. His simplistic Manicheanism is viewed as moral clarity. When pressed on something, in the moment (which is exceedingly rare) he simply repeats the same talking point. There is no evidence of the friction of competing theses being analyzed. Thought was concluded long ago about most issues– its now simply a matter of managing current facts to justify old beliefs. Seemless thought circles abound: “Where are the WMD’s?.” “Saddam was a threat. America is safer now. I’m convinced I did the right thing.” To see him struggle thinking on his feet leads one to suspect that he is not the prime mover of the administration. Having monitored human rights in the region for decades, let me submit that those prime movers couldn’t give a damn about the Shiites, except insofar as they can further some Wilsonian Middle East democratic domino theory.

    Some queries (plus my answers):

    Should Tenet be fired for the massive intelligence failures on his watch? (Yes) Will he be fired? (no) Why?

    Will anyone be held accountable for failures like 9/11 and the WMD fiasco? (No)

    Will Iraq and Afghanistan be model democracies in five years? (Hope so, but I’d bet on a more theocratic or dictatorial or chaotic outcome)

    Thanks for letting me express. Everyone should vote. I will for the Democratic nominee.

  • Shelby says:

    I share your concerns and broader thoughts about biological research’s future in the US. I come at it from the other direction, though, not having voted for Bush but strongly endorsing his conclusion of the Iraq war. I expect to vote for Bush in November, because he’s the only candidate I’ve heard who seems to realize we’re in a long-term war. I think we stand to lose a great deal more if we downplay that issue, than we do from Bush’s many failings (biooresearch, fundamentalist pandering in general, environmental issues, etc.).

    Maybe Kerry, or whomever, would in fact defend the US from those who are attacking us. But they all say they will not.

  • Jim says:

    A lot of hell goes with a bit too much religion.

  • Jim Peterson says:

    I agree. I can’t stand Bush for his attitude about premaritalsex, the funding of VA hospitals, biological research,worker protection from the possible harmful effects ofnanotechnology and worst of all…his complete inability tojoke about and intellectually brow-beat the left wing mediathe way Ronald Reagan could or Dennis Miller can.

    However, the far-sighted decision to liberate the Middle EasternShiites in Iraq…was so brilliant (and the leftist reactionso lame)that I can only think of voting for Republicansfor the next gene ration. In fact,this year I will register and vote for this first time in mylife. I never really bothered to actually vote before.

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