"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, May 08, 2006

Is this How a Think Tank Works?

I've now read in several places that John Podesta's (Bill Clinton's former Chief of Staff) glitzy new think tank, the Center for American Progress, circulated press kits to members of the media informing them of Tony Snow's negative appraisals of the Bush White House. The idea was apparently to embarrass Bush or Snow or both on the day of his hiring as White House spokesman.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) was conceived as a left-wing counter to outfits like the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. It launched with a lot of fanfare and has surely offered its share of white papers, policy briefs, and expert testimonies. I sense that with the Tony Snow maneuver the CAP may have damaged its own credibility. We're talking about petty electioneering type stuff and my experience is that think tanks don't do that, not even the ones with a clear ideological bent.

S.T., Kathy, Ben, Alan, you have all done plenty of think tank time. Am I right? Is this a breach of etiquette?

9 comments:

S. T. Karnick said...

Every place I've been at has been extremely careful to stay away from this sort of thing. However, I cannot speak for any others.

Kathy Hutchins said...

Not only have I never worked at a place that engaged in this kind of juvenile stunt, or seen or heard of it among my colleages, I never saw anyone on the other side do it either. Not even very openly left places like IPS or EPI. One more data point to confirm my theory that Bill Clinton is a perverse Midas: everyone he touches turns into a heap of manure.

Hunter Baker said...

That's what I thought. I've been in and around a lot of these places and cute little press kits designed to embarrass a president over the fact than an appointee disagreed with him seemed pretty unprofessional to me.

Tlaloc said...

"That's what I thought. I've been in and around a lot of these places and cute little press kits designed to embarrass a president over the fact than an appointee disagreed with him seemed pretty unprofessional to me."

Weren't those quotes factually accurate though?

If so you are in the odd position of deriding an accurate press release as unprofessional while defending the typical hack work lies produced by most think tanks.

tbmbuzz said...

If so you are in the odd position of deriding an accurate press release as unprofessional


A press release that selectively edits comments for its own purposes and omits the bulk of Tony Snow's statements about the Bush administration is hardly accurate.

Tlaloc said...

"A press release that selectively edits comments for its own purposes and omits the bulk of Tony Snow's statements about the Bush administration is hardly accurate."

Fair enough, but it still seems to be a big step up from those think tanks that trade exclusively in lies.

Hunter Baker said...

The problem here was not one of accuracy. It's quite true that Tony Snow criticized the president. I suspect that is part of why he was hired. The problem is that we have a think tank channeling Nelson from the Simpson's. Instead of making any substantive contribution, we have a think tank headed by a former White House Chief of Staff pitching rocks and snorting, "HA,HA!"

Tlaloc said...

"Instead of making any substantive contribution, we have a think tank headed by a former White House Chief of Staff pitching rocks and snorting, "HA,HA!""

And that is different from most Think Tanks, how?

We've already covered the fact that the vast majority of think tanks are nothing more than corporate astroturf operations. There are a few that have actual guiding principles but they are few and far between. Cato leaps to mind. They have an actual agenda, not a good one but a real one. But by and large Think Tanks are (as you yourself seem to have realized by your comment above) peopled by failed academics, and exist for the purpose of producing a sufficient quantity and quality of lies as to muddle any important debate.

S. T. Karnick said...

. . . And the fox looked hungrily at the grapes but could not reach them. Try as he might, he could not leap the fence, and could not get to the luscious grapes.

His face turned angry, and he snarled. "Those grapse are sour, anyway!," he growled, and he slinked away haughtily.