Since President-elect Obama still has almost a month before taking the oath of office and actually governing we can evaluate on the strength or weakness of its progressive nature, any move he makes by nominating a person to a cabinet or advisory post or by giving a speech doesn't reflect governance or policy. Policy wonks and political junkies like myself have to speculate on what the symbolism is of various choices (and the symbolism of Rick Warren upsets me very much).
But some signs, especially on the science front, are very, very good.
The director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will be John Holdren
of Harvard University, a professor of environmental policy well versed on the science of global climate change.
The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be Jane Lubchenko
, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University. Harold Varmus
, who won a Nobel for his work on viral oncogenes, and Eric Lander
, a genomics researcher, will co-chair the Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.
Another Nobel laureate, Steven Chu
, will be the Secretary of Energy. Chu is a strong promoter of alternative energy sources and head of the Berkeley National laboratory.
If the president-to-be takes the advice of these good people and are influencing the policy that comes from the Obama White House, I expect to see major improvements in energy policy and some serious attention paid to carbon emissions. This is, overall, a net plus for science and a real strike against anti-science we've seen from the White House in the last 8 years.