Science Issues Play Central Role as GOP Hopefuls Jockey for Position; Schwarzenegger's Brand of "New Centrism" Offers Sharp Contrast to Romney's Ostrich-Headed Appeasement of the Right

Science issues are lining up to be a big part of the political jockeying by the 2008 presidential hopefuls. Plans are in the works to make Framing Science the-go-to-site for news and insight tracking the candidates' strategies and positions. So stay tuned...but today, an update on the GOP side.

Former MA Gov. Mitt Romney has emerged as a hot ticket on the GOP fundraising trail, reportedly raising millions, and accumulating top staff to join his Boston HQ. Meanwhile, Washington buzz is that he is already the candidate of choice among Christian conservatives, based on his strong anti-abortion stance and his move to the right on stem cell research.

Senator John McCain, in contrast, hopes that science boosts him with moderate voters, helping to negate his hardline views on the war. McCain continues to push for his bill that would cap greenhouse gas emissions and that would set up an emissions credit trading system. Like fellow presidential hopeful Bill Frist, McCain flip-flopped his position on stem cell research, coming out in favor of expanded funding. "It's a very complex scientific issue," McCain (Ariz.) told NBC's Tim Russert in 2005. "But for us to throw away opportunities to cure diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's and many others I think would be a mistake."

Though he won't be running for commander in chief, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger is putting pressure on GOP presidential hopefuls to adopt pro-science stands on global warming and stem cell research. As part of Arnold's "post-partisan," "new centrism" strategy, the Governator stands in sharp contrast to right-wing appeasers like Mitt Romney. Here's how the Boston Globe's Darrin Jackson describes the contrast in today's column:

[Schwarzenegger] is now the nation's most prominent Republican elected official fighting global warming. While Mitt Romney, our own former Republican governor and now presidential aspirant, played to his party's ostrich-head right by removing Massachusetts from the regional agreement to charge power plants for greenhouse gas emissions, Schwarzenegger this month signed an executive order requiring the state to cut auto and truck emissions. The initative would cut the state's emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020.

Our new governor, Deval Patrick, announced this week that our state will rejoin the regional initiative. But Schwarzenegger is rightfully the new star of a very real drama because he is willing to cut loose from the six years of ignorant inaction of his party's standard bearer, President Bush. California alone is the world's 12th-largest producer of greenhouse gases. The United States produces a quarter of the world's gases with only 5 percent of the population.

When Rush Limbaugh whines that Schwarzenegger's rhetoric on global warming "is no different than what Greenpeace could say," the conservative talk-show host only adds to the notion of a good-as-can-get Republican (Romney had a shot at this notion, negotiating a healthcare expansion copied by Schwarzenegger, but choked on global warming and his frothing quest to kill gay marriage).

Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less