The split between the GOP and the scientific community began during the administration of Richard Nixon. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, protests against the Vietnam War captured the sympathy of the liberal academic community, including many scientists, whose opposition to the war turned them against Nixon. The president characteristically lashed back and, in 1973, abolished the entire White House science advisory team by executive order, fuming that they were all Democrats. Later, he was caught ranting on one of his tapes about a push, led by his science adviser, to spend more money on scientific research in the crucial electoral state of California. Nixon complained, “Their only argument is that we’re going to lose the support of the scientific community. We will never have their support.” The GOP further alienated scientists with its “Southern strategy,” an effort to broaden the party’s appeal to white conservative Southerners. Many scientists were turned off by the increasing evangelical slant of Republicans and what many saw as coded appeals to white racists.
This quote is from this excellent Washington Monthly article about the split between Bush and the scientific community. A new 40-page document, “Politics and Science in the Bush Administration,” from the House Government Reform Committee’s special investigations division, recently reported in the Washington Post, and mentioned in Tapped, shows just how bad things have gotten:
“The Administration’s political interference with science has led to misleading statements by the President, inaccurate responses to Congress, altered web sites, suppressed agency reports, erroneous international communications, and the gagging of scientists,…”
UPDATE: Calpudit has a memo.