can repeat the question, but am I bright enough to ask it?"
Dear Mr. President,
Many thanks for your invitation to apply for the position of Science Advisor to the President. Alas, there is some mistake, for I am a philosophy professor. At their best, scientists respond to problems with answers, and this can be useful to presidents. Philosophers have a cranky habit of responding to answers with more problems. You don't need that.
Taking into account all of the poor scientific policy advice that has been promulgated in Washington for the last forty years, you'll need luck in your search for the right person. The record shows that scientists are as much victims of fashion as other ordinary mortals. Recall a few examples of science in predictive mode:
This list could be expanded into periodic cancer scares, worries about the ozone hole, silicon breast implants, acid rain (another wildly exaggerated threat), air pollution, and so forth. It's odd when you think about it: though you and I might have enjoyed scary Frankenstein movies, when we were children, science and technology were seen as great forces for the benefit of mankind. Things shifted in the 1960s, and a spirit of pessimism began to invade science.
Today, it is much easier for scientists to receive grants if they indicate their research might uncover a serious threat or problem—economic, medical, ecological. Media fascination with bad news is partly to blame, along with the principled gloominess and nagging of organizations such as Greenpeace. But government itself has played its natural part. After all, as H.L. Mencken once remarked, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
Since I'm sure you're keen to avoid such alarmism, you'll need an advisor who can see through the fashions of science, and understand something of their psychology. The epidemiologist who slightly overstates the conclusiveness of his study suggesting that french fries might cause cancer (in mice) or the young climatologist on the global-warming gravy train are not basically dishonest people. You too might more easily buy into some doomsday scenario, if it meant regular business-class flights to major resorts to compare computer climate models with other experts (models that you know in your heart could not possibly predict average atmospheric temperatures fifty years hence, but what hell, the food's great).
I hope your new Science Advisor comes to the job armed with knowledge of the rich history of junk science and false predictions served up to government in the last forty years. The point is not to be cynical about fads and careerism, but wisely to choose where best to support both pure science and science that can give us beneficial technologies.