Blinding Pence with science

BLINDING PENCE WITH SCIENCE…. On one side, we have President Obama, who seems to care so much about scientific integrity that some have begun calling him “almost strident” on the issue. On the other, we have leading congressional Republicans such as Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the third highest-ranking GOP lawmaker in the House.

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews spoke with Pence yesterday, and started with a straightforward question: “Do you believe in evolution, sir?” Pence replied, “Uh, I, do I believe in evolution? Ah, I, I, uh, I embrace the, uh, the, uh, the view, ah, that God created the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that’s in them.”

I’ll put him down for a “maybe.”

Pence went on to repeat already discredited talking points on cap-and-trade policy; falsely argued that “the science is very mixed on the subject of global warming”; and said public school science classes should cover “all these controversial areas” regarding the origins of life on Earth.

Matthews, incredulous, asked, “Did you take biology in school? If your party wants to be credible on science, you gotta accept science…. I don’t think your party is passionately committed to science, or fighting global warming, or dealing with the scientific facts we live with.”

This is plainly true, and one of the core reasons why policy discussions with congressional Republicans go so poorly. For lawmakers like Pence, facts, evidence, and reason are obstacles to be avoided. It makes debate in good faith next to impossible.

In the broader context, I’m also reminded of something Matt Yglesias wrote earlier this year: “The larger issue … is that Mike Pence is a moron, and any movement that would hold the guy up as a hero is bankrupt…. I would refer you to this post from September about the earth-shattering ignorance and stupidity of Mike Pence…. I can only gather from the fact that his colleagues have elevated him to a leadership post, that a large faction of them are actually so much stupider than Pence that they don’t realize how dumb he is. But it’s really staggering. In my admittedly brief experience talking to him, his inability to grasp the basic contours of policy question was obvious and overwhelming.”

The Republican war on science did not end when Bush left office.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.