1. Opinion

Rubio shouldn't pander to ignorance

Published Nov. 23, 2012

Florida's junior U.S. senator lost no time after the election in making his way to Iowa to burnish his 2016 presidential prospects. But a GQ magazine interview released this week shows Sen. Marco Rubio has some growing to do if he wants to be seriously considered. Rubio refused to be pinned down on the simplest of questions: "How old do you think the Earth is?" He bobbed and weaved around the subject, disingenuously insisting he wasn't a scientist. A pandering denial of scientific fact may appeal to factions of the Republican Party, but it hardly establishes Rubio as a thoughtful future leader of the GOP, much less the country.

For the record, the mainstream scientific community is in general agreement that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, give or take an eon or two. But for Rubio, determining the age of the planet remains "one of the great mysteries."

Actually the greater mystery is how an ambitious political figure, with an undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, a law degree with the University of Miami and a father of four children, could decline to take a stand on a basic elementary school science question. It's especially troubling from a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Rubio's ascent to his current job came from deftly riding the tea party wave while still maintaining some independence, such as on immigration reform. That instinct would serve him just as well on the matter of science. Promoting scientific and technological advancement, instead of pandering to ignorance, is the answer for this country's future.