I’m not sure which is worse: How little Rick Perry knows about science, or how little he seems to care.
Perry stood out during the debate tonight for the 2012 Republican Presidential candidates, as debate coach Todd Perry noted at CNN:
Perry’s worst stumble of the night was on climate change. He had previously stated that the science was not settled, but when challenged by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and the moderator, John Harris, about how he came to that conclusion, Perry could name no scientist he had read or evidence he had seen that lent credence to his position. He just repeated that we still “need to find out what the science is” and “the fact of the matter is that the science is not settled.”
If the science is not settled, and climate change is not real, then Perry should have been able to answer the question. But his response was a nonanswer and his delivery was timid. I don’t think anyone in the audience believed he knew what he was talking about. Huntsman called him anti-science, and Perry answered by practically saying, “Present.”
And then there’s Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachman, who somehow managed to take President Obama’s politics-driven decision to postpone new ozone rules – despite the scientific consensus that they were desperately needed – as proof that environmental regulations are based on politics, not science. Welcome to Humpty-Dumpty-land:
“On this issue of human activity being the cause of climate change, it’s important to note the President recognized how devastating the EPA has been in their rulemaking. What we’re seeing is a political agenda being advanced instead of a scientific agenda.”
Mitt Romney wasn’t much better. Despite all evidence to the contrary – the Brookings Institution reports the U.S. clean energy economy employs 2.7 million people, more than in the fossil fuel industry, and is one of the fastest growing sectors in the current economy – Romney said,
“[President Obama] keeps talking about green jobs. Where are they? We can have real jobs. We can have energy jobs.”
Only one candidate seems to have a lick of sense – John Huntsman, the former Utah Governor and Ambassador to China:
“When you make comments that fly in the face of 98 out of 100 climate scientists, to call into question the science of evolution, all I am saying is that in order for the Republican Party to win, we can’t run from science. By making comments that basically don’t reflect the reality of the situation, we turn people off.”
Not Republican primary voters, anyway. Rick Perry is flying high and Huntsman is stuck in the low single digits.
In summary, Steve Bennen at Washington Monthly is scared:
[Rick Perry] balks when presented with evidence on evolution, abstinence education, and climate change, but embraces without question the notion that everyone he’s killed in Texas was 100% guilty. The scientific process, he apparently believes, is unreliable, while the state criminal justice system is infallible.
Intellectually, morally, and politically, this isn’t just wrong; it’s scary. The fact that Republicans in the audience found this worthy of hearty applause points to a party that’s bankrupt in more ways than one.
There’s an old joke:
Q: What’s the difference between ignorance and apathy?
A: I don’t know, and I don’t care.
That pretty much sums up the GOP’s 2012 field.
More on bad policy + bad science:
Edited by Jeremy Bloom - 12/19/12 at 12:43am