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Clinton and the Presidential Science Advisor January 7, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in politics.
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In issue #13 of SEED magazine Chris Mooney has a short article discussing the role of the White House Science advisor. After discussing the current guy, Marburger, and how badly that seems to be working, he has this:

The top democratic presidential contender, Hillary Clinton, has officially pledged to right the wrongs against Marburger—or at least, against his office. If elected, Hillary says, her science adviser will be named early, get the “Assistant to the President” title back, and report directly to her.

I guess she may not be the top contender any longer… I searched the Internet but was unable to find anything referring to similar statements from Obama or Edwards. Does anyone know? During the budget cuts Obama came out quite strongly in favor of restoring funding to Fermilab (which is in his state, after all).

I really hope that if any of the tree got into office it would restore a more rational approach to science policy, but Clinton is the only one I know of that has made such a specific statement.

Comments»

1. Anonymous - January 8, 2008

I think you should e-mail the Obama campaign and ask him. Clearly not because he may have $250 coming his way if the answer is yes, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Note, however, that in either case I would bet that the new presidential science advisor would, unlike Marburger, probably be a global warming expert that, while expert in the absolutely critical field of climate science, knows next to nothing about fundamental particle physics. Hopefully they could get someone equally expert in pure and applied research, but that is certainly not guaranteed. So I’m not sure if the gain would necessarily be so big, at least for this area (maybe for others though). But it’s still of course the right thing to do.

2. gordonwatts - January 8, 2008

All good points!

What I’m most worried about is that the science advisor doesn’t have input. I imagine the current guy has only a little input into the policy making process (and Marburger was head of BNL, wasn’t he – if so, he knows a fair bit about HEP). I care less about what particular sciecne disipline he/she comes from. Bio and climate change are both obvious picks, for example. Particle physics would be great – but the person up there can’t really be an advocate for a particlar type of science as much as for science, research, and the mirad of issues that impact it (immigration, etc.).

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