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Huntsman’s Science Tweet

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Whether or not Jon Huntsman manages to secure the 2012 Republican Nomination for President, he has officially made his presence felt and impacted the race. To TRC, Hunstman has bettered the race for president. And all he did was tweet.

What did he tweet? “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.”

That was it. He was responding to the anti-science politicking that Rick Perry was engaging in: within a matter of hours Perry had proclaimed that evolution is just a theory with some gaps in it and that Texas schools teach evolution and creation, and that climate change is not proven and the science is falling apart. Or as he wrote last year in his book, climate change is “all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight.”

Huntsman then tweeted his tweet, and it turns out it was the most popular tweet yet tweeted by any of the 2012 Candidates, garnering 3600 retweets, beating Palin’s  most popular tweet by 50% (imagine that sentence being written 5 years ago). Huntsman, not content to keep his science-promoting self to 140 characters or less, continued his anti-Perry’s-anti-science position on ABC’s This Week, where Huntsman said:

 I think there’s a serious problem.  The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party – the anti-science party, we have a huge problem.  We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012.  When we take a position that isn’t willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science – Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man’s contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.
The Republican Party has to remember that we’re drawing from traditions that go back as far as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, President Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Bush.  And we’ve got a lot of traditions to draw upon.  But I can’t remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a – a party that – that was antithetical to science. I’m not sure that’s good for our future and it’s not a winning formula. 

The pro-science tweet may be the most defining moment of the 2012 campaign thus far. It shows, if nothing else, that there are actually differences among candidates on real issues. For all the sparring of the GOP candidates, they seem pretty closely tied on policy. Each candidate, Huntsman included, claimed they would refuse a 10 to 1 cuts to revenue increases scenario for deficit reduction, for example, an almost unbelievably intransigent position to govern from. There has to be differences somewhere, and with Huntsman tacking towards a pro-science position (at least in comparison), the possibility of a real conversation about the role of science in Republican Politics and Policy might be possible.

And a lot of folks are talking about Republicans, science, and Jon Huntsman. The NY Times has a blog wondering whether the GOP has a fundamental science problem. Religion Dispatches thanks Perry’s science stance and Huntsman response for making the Mormon Romney seem more moderate in relation to Perry’s extreme Christianity. Washington Post blogged about the Roaring Huntsman and his mild-mannered roar. It goes on and on. The past 4 days of coverage for Huntsman must make his heart swell.

And it should. It doesn’t mean that he will become the 2012 Republican Candidate for President. It might even mean that he will have a harder time reaching that goal. But his tweet provided movement in a race for the presidency where anti-science stances dominate. So good job to Huntsman for actually impacting the race, for the better.


Written by Christopher ZF

August 22, 2011 at 13:49

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