Amid the hoopla about Sarah Palin's very un-hockey mom $150,000 campaign wardrobe, the Republican veep candidate managed to drop another flammable tidbit that set off the science community,
not to mention the blogosphere.
During a speech on her ticket's special needs policy last week, Palin, who has held up her Down's syndrome young son as a symbol of her kinship with all parents of special needs children, mocked earmarks better known as pork for eating up much-needed federal funds.
She vowed – as she has many times -- that if she and running mate John McCain are elected, they will nix such fat that's tacked onto budget bills by lawmakers eager to win points back home-- projects that "really don't make a whole lot of sense" and have "little or nothing to do with the public good. . . things like fruit fly research in Paris, France."
"I kid you not," she declared with a chuckle.
One problem: the research she chose to highlight as a waste of cash just happens to have borne some, well, fruit. And for special needs kids, no less. Among such projects: a 2007 University of North Carolina study that researchers said might be key to better understanding the root of autism spectrum disorders.
Picking on science research as an example of frivolous spending seems to be a theme with the McCain-Palin campaign. McCain, for instance, has been making a point of dissing research of grizzly bear DNA in TV spots and on the campaign trail, and he brought it up again as recently as his first debate with Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. In fact, ScientificAmerican.com established in a February article that the study was crucial to determining whether grizzlies are a dying breed.
As bloggers and scientists have noted, next time McCain and Palin want to tout their devotion to special needs and health care, they might do well to avoid condemning the very science designed to address those issues.