Many prominent bloggers and scientists have been lobbying for a presidential debate on science: Sciencedebate 2008. From the site:
Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Health and Medicine, and Science and Technology Policy.
Good luck with that. It sounds eminently reasonable -- there are many important policy issues related to science -- but does anyone expect substantive discussion to happen in political debates any more? Does anyone even watch them? I caught a few minutes of one "town hall" CNN debate that was astoundingly idiotic. People in the audience were actually asking good questions but CNN's Wolf Blitzer turned most everything into a hot-button "hands up" question (e.g. "What are the attributes you look for in a supreme court justice?" becomes "Overturn Roe v. Wade? Hands up everybody who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade!"). I can't imagine a debate on science issues turning out any better.
Even if debates were useful, does science really deserve its own? Why not just ensure that these questions get asked at other debates? The Sciencedebate 2008 site tells us that Science and Technology "may be the most important social issue of our time." Is that true for everyone or just a certain sci-tech elite? Hasn't this crowd already gotten their answers from the candidate days at Google and interviews in TechCrunch, Wired, etc.?
To sum up, I'm not really against a science debate, but this campaign bugs me a little.