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Break out the sparkling C2H5OH, scientists: While signing his order lifting the restrictions on federally funded embryonic stem-cell research, President Obama remarked that he was rejecting the Bush administration’s “false choice between sound science and moral values.” Meanwhile, a new military strategy in Afghanistan embodies the “not all Taliban are bad” mentality. And with Obama preparing to bring Turkey back into the circle of international friends, the president earns an all-time high of 65 on the Change-o-Meter.
Critics frequently considered the restrictions on taxpayer money for stem cells to be the crux of the Bush administration’s sustained political assault on scientific research. Accompanying the lift of the ban was a presidential memorandum in which Obama promised (albeit in vague terms) to protect scientific research from the caprice of politicians by ordering the Office of Science and Technology Policy to follow a strict and nonpolitical vetting process. The Washington Post reports that this may affect policy areas as varied as global warming and birth control. For making today both Christmas and a birthday for the science community (and not shortchanging them like all the other kids whose birthdays fall on Christmas), Obama racks up 50 points on the Change-o-Meter. That number would be higher if Obama had taken a stand on the controversial Dickey-Wicker amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for the actual experiments on human embryos. Also if this morning’s good news didn’t have us wondering, “What took you so long?”
This weekend, meanwhile, Obama told New York Times reporters that he intends to try cooperating with moderate Taliban members in Afghanistan in an attempt to repeat the success of doing so with Sunni military leaders in Iraq. That sounds good—the same strategy is often credited with turning the tide of the war in Iraq—and we’ll award 15 points for a fresh approach to this entrenched war. But it didn’t take Reutersmore than a day to find experts who insist that the strategy will not work. One former Taliban official asked, “Who are the moderate Taliban?” They’re the experts. Dock five.
Finally, Obama plans to take a reconciliation trip to Turkey, a U.S. ally whose cooperation will be vital to the United States’ withdrawal from Iraq and sustained efforts against a nuclear Iran. The Iraq war has made things tense between the United States and its longtime friend, but Turkey has recently promised to facilitate the U.S. exit strategy. Obama’s visit to this Muslim country may begin to help put America back on the ins with Muslims around the region. Here’s hoping—with five points back for the ‘Meter.
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