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CULTIVATING SCIENCE

A Few Words from the President on Science and Technology

What We Have and Have Not Heard in the State of the Union

Bush delivers the State of the Union Address in 2007 SOURCE: AP Saying that science has gotten short shrift during the Bush years is nothing new. Science Progress takes a look at some of the key terms in science and tech policy that have, and have not, appeared in the previous six State of the Union addresses. Above, Bush at the 2007 SOTU.

Tonight, President Bush offers the final State of the Union address of his presidency. During the course of his Administration, the United States and the global community have faced a variety of challenges for which good governance demands open scientific inquiry and sound scientific advice. Saying that science has gotten short shrift during the Bush years is nothing new. Since we launched Science Progress in October of last year, the White House has continued to politicize science, meddling with testimony from the CDC Director on the effects of climate change on public health. The Administration appointed an anti-contraception activist to the post of acting deputy secretary for the Office of Population Affairs. And the Office of the President even tried to take credit for breakthroughs in stem cell research, despite the fact that Federal regulations imposed in 2001 likely set the search for life-saving cures back four or five years.

Despite signing the landmark America COMPETES Act of 2007, which provides support for the science and engineering that will drive the U.S. economy, Bush approved in December an omnibus spending package that reduced funding for basic and applied research in real terms for the fourth year in a row.

In order to transition the United States to a dynamic low-carbon economy, to support life-saving biomedical research, to protect the integrity of scientific inquiry, and to spur innovation and job growth, the President must spearhead strong government leadership in science and technology. To see how Bush has dealt with these matters over the past few years, we took a look at some of the key terms in science and tech policy that have appeared in the previous six State of the Union addresses; we also took an inventory of some of the key words that have been conspicuously absent from those same speeches.

Frequency of Keywords in Bush SOTU Addresses

frequency of key words that have appeard in the Bush SOTU addressesSource: The New York Times, “The State of the Union in Words.

Conspicuously Absent

In six State of the Union addresses, President Bush has never uttered the following words or phrases:

  • carbon
  • emissions
  • warming
  • cap and trade
  • stem cell
  • space
  • internet
  • broadband

Whether or not we hear any of these words tonight, in whatever context, it’s unlikely to change the legacy of an Administration that consistently left science behind.

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