Though the tagline promises politics in addition to physics and pop culture, I try to keep the political content to a minimum. Not because I’m particularly worried about offending anyone, but because I don’t particularly like the way I sound when I write about politics these days. I get very cranky, and even if I like the post when I put it up, a few days later I’m posting short filler entries just to move it off the front page faster, because reading it makes me cringe.
Of course, that’s only part of the reason why I didn’t watch the State of the Union address last night, despite having heard that Bush planned to say some things about science (a good thing, too, as it appears to have been about two paragraphs, both of which are quoted by Chris Mooney this morning). And the fact that I had to write today’s lecture was only a small part of the reason– I finished that early enough to sneak in an episode of The Wire before bed.
The main reason why I didn’t watch the speech to hear what Bush would say about science policy is that it doesn’t matter what he says. This administration doesn’t do policy, they do politics. If Bush says something in a speech, it’s because they think it will sound good in a speech, period. That doesn’t mean there’s a concrete proposal in the works– if the line in he speech is poorly received, odds are it will disappear without a trace. And even if the line sounds good, that doesn’t mean there will be any follow-through– ask the people of New York, Afghanistan, Iraq, and New Orleans about that.
So, yeah, “double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years” sounds great. So does “If we reverse the polarity on the flux capacitor, we can generate an infinite amount of free energy, and a pony.” I’ll believe it when I see the pony.