It's real: this man's absolute opposition to scientific information. The thought that this country would elect or seriously consider electing someone who stands out there and says I don't accept science on climate change and clearly doesn't want to study it any further. I think that's the big, hard, bad news for the Republican Party. Their front-runner, tonight, seemed to be anti-science and this country has to win the battle of science in the world against China and India and the other [something] countries. If we give up on science, if we get the image of being a yahoo country, a monkey-business country, we got a real problem in terms of our national identity and this fellow we're looking at right now is leading the charge, the luddite charge against modern technology and modern information. So I think that's the hard, bad news for the Republican party.So Mr. Science there — the man whose leg felt a thrill when he heard Barack Obama — says "big, hard, bad" and "hard, bad" when he sees Rick Perry. I'd say Matthews is scared. He's spewing emotion. But he would like us to believe he's devoted to science! A burbling bundle of emotion attempts to embody seriousness about science. It's absurd.
What is a "monkey-business country"? Did some notion of the "monkey trial" flitter through his flickering brain? Perry said nothing about evolution, but whatever. He seemed "anti-science" to Matthews, and Matthews opened up his anti-science floodgate and "monkey-business country" popped out, along with "yahoo" and "luddite," which are also rattling around in the same word bin in the mind of Matthews.
Let's look at the transcript and try to inject a little reality into the Matthews word-mush. John Harris of Politico has just asked Jon Huntsman — Jon Meade Huntsman Jr. — which of his fellow Republicans has been "saying crazy or inane things." Huntsman demurs. Harris tries again: "You yourself have said the party is in danger of becoming anti- science. Who on this stage is anti-science?" Huntsman says:
Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy. We've got to win voters.Odd that "We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy" and "We've got to win voters" followed the notion that "we can't run from science." Does he think it's difficult to be scientific and conservative? Anyway, Huntsman's main point is that if Republicans aren't scientific, it will "turn people off" and they won't win. That's about science, but not about the devotion to science. It's just a pragmatic statement about winning elections.
Harris turns to Rick Perry, even though Huntsman didn't name Perry (as Harris, obviously, had hoped). Harris doesn't pick up the evolution thread, but he asks Perry about "climate change": "You said that weekly and even daily, scientists are coming forward to question the idea that human activity is behind climate change. Which scientists have you found most credible on this subject?" Of course, Perry doesn't name any scientists. He says:
Well, I do agree that there is -- the science is -- is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.Now, that's just not anti-science. Perry resists signing on to the opinion of the experts who portray themselves as the scientific consensus, but he didn't say he "clearly doesn't want to study [climate change] any further," which is the way Chris Matthews characterized his remarks. Perry said he wanted accurate science and more science — especially when it is the basis for proposals that would have a "monstrous economic impact."
But the fact is, to put America's economic future in jeopardy, asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on this country is not good economics and I will suggest to you is not necessarily good science. Find out what the science truly is before you start putting the American economy in jeopardy.
Citing statistics showing success improving air quality in Texas, Perry says:
That's the way you need to do it, not by some scientist somewhere saying, "Here is what we think is happening out there." The fact of the matter is, the science is not settled on whether or not the climate change is being impacted by man to the point where we're going to put America's economics in jeopardy.That's not anti-science. That is a practical man setting a high burden of proof about the degree to which science must be "settled" where the effect on the economy is severe. You may disagree on the question of how settled the science is, but that doesn't make him anti-science.
Matthews, brought on to analyze the debate, seems barely to have heard what Perry actually said. He simply unleashed a torrent of words around the subject of science and tried to scare people — if anyone was still watching — about this yahoo monkeyman Perry.