In the middle of a speech on commitment to special needs children, Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin chose to take a pot shot at some pork–research into fruit flies. It was a particularly good political shot, because the research is taking place in Paris, France, and obviously, “real” Americans don’t want to pay for anything that takes place there.
Like many research projects, fruit fly research simply doesn’t sound very exciting. It makes a good political joke. And it’s a joke that works because too many Americans have almost no idea of the basic science that must take place before they can drive their cars, operate their computers, or generally have jobs.
Responsible leadership would inform such people of just how essential basic research is. Leaders would examine the process and see just what benefits were intended, even if those benefits were only in developing the framework of scientific understanding in which all that technology, you know, the stuff we all have to have, is accomplished.
But instead, Palin chose to make it a good joke about wasteful spending. I’m not going to go into detail, but it turns out the fruit flies being studied are abundant in Europe and are just starting to appear in California, and successfully handling this may well involve quite a number of people’s jobs in the future.
Brighter people than I am have written up a few more details at Inside Higher Ed. List this as another strong reason why I simply can’t stomach the Republican team this year.