Or rather, 14 reasons. Science Debate 2008 is a collaboration among some of the foremost scientific and public policy experts out there today. After developing a list of 14 science and policy-related questions from an original list of more than 3,000, they sent these 14 questions to both the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees and asked them to answer. Barack Obama’s answers have been submitted and posted. The McCain campaign has said they will answer the questions, but they haven’t yet (I’ll keep checking back to update on that).
There are several things that strike me about Obama’s answers (even though I don’t agree with every one of them). First and foremost, his answers show me that he’s not only willing to seek expert advice, but that he is able to do so with tremendous success. He recognizes that he is not a scientist and can’t develop policies around concepts that he doesn’t have a clear understanding of. Part of being a good president is knowing when and who to ask for help. The second thing that strikes me is Obama’s obvious understanding that we live in a vastly different world than we did even fifteen years ago. He sees very, very clearly that science and technology play a huge role in everything from national security to pandemic prevention to education to the economy. And finally, I greatly appreciate that Obama kept his answers on topic, presenting them in an intelligent and understandable way.
This morning I received an email from the Obama campaign urging people to get back to the issues. Sometimes we need that little reminder. The issues are what is important in this campaign and Obama has a strong grasp of what those issues really are. This is the kind of president we need to get out of the rut we’ve been in these last 8 years and start making progress in a rapidly changing world.