The night after President "George II" Bush flatlined his way through another annual coma-inducing assemblage of lies, false promises and delusional thinking — I believe the technical term for it is "State of the Union address" — I found myself listening to David Gergen on NPR, giving the address a thorough going over.
Though Gergen isn't as hopeless as somebody like David Broder — for one thing, Gergen occasionally sounds like somebody who drinks a cup of coffee now and then — the substantive content of his analysis was low to zero. How could it be otherwise? To treat a Bush SOTU address as a serious political affair requires a mindset similar to the one enjoyed by the protagonist of Memento, who can't remember anything further back than 15 minutes in the past.
Gergen approvingly mentioned Bush's call for America to boost science education so it can retain its leadership role in technological innovation, and wasted many minutes pondering how Bush could achieve this lofty goal. As if Bush had any such thing in mind! Like a nearsighted basketball player, Bush spends his SOTU time throwing Hail Mary shots that ricochet off the backboard and are quickly forgotten. Remember how he wanted to explore Mars?
In that spirit, how can anyone take seriously Bush's call to boost science education in order to preserve America's competitive edge? Has any other administration shown such contempt for science and empirical thinking? Just yesterday, the New York Times ran a report on how NASA scientists are being plagued by Bush campaign flacks who want to make sure the agency's reports are phrased in ways that will mollify the creationist pests who are part of Bush's voting base:
In October, for example, George Deutsch, a presidential appointee in NASA headquarters, told a Web designer working for the agency to add the word "theory" after every mention of the Big Bang, according to an e-mail message from Mr. Deutsch that another NASA employee forwarded to The Times.