Sunday, May 04, 2008

Presidential politics

Since my last post, there was a presidential primary in Pennsylvania, and despite running into Bill Clinton hanging out in front of my polling station, I voted for Barack Obama. One of the things that has particularly bothered me about the Republican administration over the last 8 years (excluding an ill-conceived war, the loss of a major US city, etc.) has been the prevailing atmosphere of anti-intellectualism. Our administration has cut funding for basic research, and has dismissed scientific evidence when making policy decisions. It has come to the point where distinguished educational credentials are liabilities when running for public office. Part of why I like Obama is that he speaks in complete sentences rather than in soundbites, and seems in general to hold education and reason in high regard (this has caused him to be attacked as elitist). Although Hillary has proposed significant increases in scientific funding (including raising the stipend of the NSF fellowship to $40,000!), and although she is also a product of an elite educational system, she has recently recast herself as a populist. Unfortunately, that seems to mean distancing herself from expert knowledge. I was disappointed to find this article: Clinton Spurns "Elite" Economists on Gas Tax. When did Elite become a bad word? A quote from the article:

Clinton used her appearance on ABC's "This Week" to raise questions about Obama's ability to connect with working-class Americans while dismissing economists who have said her plan to suspend gas taxes over the summer would do little good.

"I'm not going to put my lot in with economists," the New York senator said when asked to name a credible economist who supported her proposal.

"We've got to get out of this mind-set where somehow elite opinion is always on the side of doing things that really disadvantage the vast majority of Americans," said Clinton, a former first lady who would be the first woman president.

In other news, my Price of Malice paper was rejected from EC. Well, no worries. I'm not about to put my lot in with computer scientists.