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“Rickie, we hardly knew ye…”

Rick WeissAcademics and science policy wonks did a double-take last spring when Rick Weiss took early retirement from a wildly successful, award-winning career at The Washington Post to join the Center for American Progress as a senior fellow and columnist for Science Progress. Some expressed their concern to me: Was Weiss, the trenchant analyst of American science, really in the progressive corner? Wasn’t the answer to that question especially important as the morale of American science took a tumble during the Bush years? The fact that Rick’s politics were in doubt even to those who had been his news sources for so many years was a high complement to his professionalism.

QED: In only nine months Rick has had a tremendous impact on SP and throughout the organization. Considering his tough-minded reputation, Rick immediately took the public impression of Science Progress‘s serious intent to the next level. He has, as expected, written smart and insightful columns on topics like stem cell policy and biodiversity. Over the next few weeks our SP-based anthology, Science Next, will appear in bookstores. He has also had a less visible but equally important influence on the ongoing dialogue at CAP about science and public policy. From my point of view, Rick has lent his stature to the argument we have made when the very idea of Science Progress was germinating at CAP, that progressivism and science are deeply related and that that relationship will help to write the American future, as it has our past.

Rick now takes his leave for a position in the Obama administration, in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. There is simply no one in the country more qualified to convey the president’s science policy to the American people, nor to help the president craft policy in light of the best evidence. It is hard to lose a colleague who is so smart, so generous with his time and ideas, and so much fun. But we are all damn lucky that he’s going to work for us. Rick, as they used to say in the wires…

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