GOOD TIME FOR A SCIENCE SPEECH....
Coincidentally, President Obama was scheduled to deliver a speech at
the National Academy of Sciences this morning anyway. Given the
headlines, the timing worked out nicely.
President Obama said on Monday that the growing number
of cases of swine flu in the United States and abroad was "not a cause
for alarm," but he sought to assure Americans that the government was
taking precautions to prepare for the prospect of a global health
"We are closely monitoring the emerging cases of swine flu in
the United States," Mr. Obama said, speaking at the National Academy of
Sciences. "This is obviously the cause for concern and requires a
heightened state of alert, but it's not a cause for alarm." [...]
Mr. Obama said the swine flu outbreak underscored the need for a
larger investment in scientific research in the United States. He said
science should not be seen as a luxury, but rather as a key element of
the nation's security.
"Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our
health, our environment and our quality of life than it has ever been
before," Mr. Obama said. "If there was ever a day that reminded us of
our shared stake in science and research, it is today."
Quite right. In fact, Obama was able to put the current concerns in
the larger context, and make a very compelling case for a renewed and
robust investment in scientific research. Alex Koppelman reported:
The solution Obama has in mind is an unprecedented level
of investment in the sciences -- more, even, than the country spent
during the Space Race. "A half century ago, this nation made a
commitment to lead the world in scientific and technological
innovation... That was the high water mark of America's investment in
research and development. Since then our investments have steadily
declined as a share of our national income -- our GDP. As a result,
other countries are now beginning to pull ahead in the pursuit of this
generation's great discoveries," he said.
"I believe it is not in our American character to follow -- but
to lead. And it is time for us to lead once again. I am here today to
set this goal: we will devote more than three percent of our GDP to
research and development... This represents the largest commitment to
scientific research and innovation in American history."
It's possible my expectations were decimated by the Bush years, but
I can't think of a modern president who speaks as often and as
enthusiastically about science as Obama. Given the circumstances, it's extremely encouraging.
Steve Benen 11:10 AM
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