In the course of an article about the dispute between Ed Crane, President of the Cato Institute, and founding directors Charles and David Koch, Washington Post author Tevi Troy presents readers with a delicious couple of sentence that speak volumes about the nature of liberal presumption.
I’ll leave aside the details of Tevi’s argument about why this dispute is bad for Cato and bad “for think tanks in general.” It’s this little gem I want you to ponder:
In recent decades, however, think tanks — like much of our culture — have become increasingly political. This trend began after the emergence of the Heritage Foundation, which was the first think tank to embrace advocacy as a goal.
Here’s a social problem; you think you have a potential solution to the problem; therefore, you advocate that solution. Is that a bad thing? Only if, like the Heritage Foundation, you happen to advocate conservative solutions. Then your ideas are “increasingly political,” “partisan,” a matter of “advocacy” not “objectivity.”
Tevi speaks kindly of the Brookings Institution, which helped frame the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II. But that wasn’t advocacy because we approve of spending billions of dollars rebuilding Europe. It’s only when people with conservative ideas have the temerity to advise folks like Ronald Reagan that we’re allowed to accuse think tanks of abandoning the search “to find solutions to some of our nation’s most serious problems” for the sake of political activism.
The moral: if you are a liberal think tank, advocacy is OK because you are advocating the right ideas. If you are a conservative think tank, advocacy is not OK because it is “divisive,” “partisan,” and lacks “objectivity.”
Rush Limbaugh calls a repellent feminist activist a “slut” and the sky falls in. Bill Maher calls Sarah Palin a “twat,” a “c___,” and says unbelievably callous things about her children, and that’s different (according to David Axelrod, anyway).
I hope I’ve cleared that up for you.