Friday, September 03, 2010

Teabaggers Binging on Purging

When the teabaggers came for the stimulus, I did not say anything, because I am not a huge fan of government spending …

When the teabaggers came for the health care reform, I did not say anything, because I am not a huge fan of government programs …

When the teabaggers came for Obama, I did not say anything, because I am not a huge fan of Obama …

When the teabaggers came for the Democrats, I did not say anything, because I am not a Democrat …

When the teabaggers came for the liberals, I did not say anything, because I am not a liberal …

And by "I" I mean "Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson," two names that will be familiar to some of you.

Here is the start of a post by David Frum, someone else who knows a thing or two about being purged by the lunatics grasping for control of Teh Conservative Movement in these United States.

The Purge at Cato

The summer’s biggest inside-Washington story was the abrupt and simultaneous departure of co-authors Brink Lindsey and Will Wilkinson from the Cato Institute.

Lindsey was Cato’s vice president for research; Wilkinson a Cato scholar. They were working together on a book arguing for a new political approach fusing libertarianism and liberalism – a concept that Cato has previously endorsed on issues like drug control, foreign policy, and sexual freedom.

Lindsey and Wilkinson missed the memo announcing that Cato was going all-in with the Tea Party movement. In early July, Lindsey negatively reviewed at the liberal American Prospect website a new book by American Enterprise Institute president, Arthur Brooks. Brooks had provided an intellectual manifesto for the Tea Party, arguing that the United States now faced a culture-dividing battle over the continued existence of the free enterprise system. Lindsey’s view: “The attempt to turn economic policy disputes into a populist cultural crusade rests on deep-seated confusion about the nature of those disputes and how best to effect constructive policy change.”

A few days later, Lindsey – whoosh! – abruptly departed to a new job at the Kauffman Foundation, Wilkinson to a part-time blog at the Economist.

The story bubbled among libertarian bloggers and tweeters. It broke into the larger blog conversation last week, when Dave Weigel asked the obvious question: were Lindsey and Wilkinson purged?

It's a long post and may be eye-rollingly inside-baseball to a lot of you. But you might at least give it a skim -- it pays to be aware of what's going on inside those power centers. As Frum says farther down:

Right-of-center think tanks claim to do objective research that can be trusted by all policy players, regardless of point of view. They boast that they care about ideas, not parties or personalities. They aspire to set a broader agenda for the right, in lieu of the narrow demands of K Street special interests.

These claims look increasingly false. The right-of-center world is poorer for the dessication of the institutions that used to act as the right’s brains.

We are likely soon to have a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, maybe the U.S. Senate too. And what will that majority do? The answer seems to be: They have not a clue.

You can disagree about some of the particulars and predictions. I certainly do. But I agree with the spirit of his argument, and if we grant his premises, the conclusion is beyond dispute. It's a warning worth taking seriously.

Hat tip to @jim_newell, who liked this line: “Somehow I always thought we’d get more done before we became completely corrupt.”


[Added] Here's a nice post by Will on Glenn Beck. He doesn't get a byline,* but if you're interested, you can probably figure out what's his by checking his Twitter feed, @willwilkinson.

Oh, and here is Brink Lindsey's Twitter feed.


* [Added2] Actually, he points out (← good post) that his Economist posts have "W.W. | IOWA CITY."


Don McArthur said...

You zany, modern day Kremlinologists. It's a shame there are no annual parades you can observe, and see who's standing next to whom.

Brendan said...

You really think we are reading too deeply into these goings-on? I don't.