"Comparative Think Tankery"
Interesting observation from Tim Fernholtz about the right’s two big think tanks:
CAP’s events are generally policy-focused and also forward-thinking: “Todd Stern on China and the Global Climate Challenge,” a discussion with a White House official, “Web 2.0 and the Federal Government,” “Building a National Strategy for Global Development.” Heritage’s events, on the other hand, are sort of kooky: “And These Storms: Lessons From Winston Churchill’s Thoughts and Adventures,” “Reagan’s Secret War: The Untold Story of His Fight to Save the World From Nuclear Disaster,” “A Conversation with Dr. Wang Dan: Student Leader, Tiananmen Square, 1989.” AEI’s events are much better (perhaps reflecting the center’s new leadership): “Addressing Systemic Risk, with a Keynote Presentation by Alan Greenspan,” “Election Demographics: What We Learned in 2008, What It Means for 2010 and 2012,” “The Five (Not So) Easy Pieces of Health Reform.”
Actually, this strikes me as not-so-kooky by Heritage standards. That kind of hero worship is nothing compared to research products like “Pentagon Should Battle Pirates and Terrorists with Laser Technology”. By contrast, though AEI certainly has its wingnutty side I’ve been to some very useful events there (I remember in particular a Eugene Volokh talk about the logic of “slippery slope” arguments). And most important of all, AEI offers the best think tank lunch in town, which is the sort of thing that matters a lot when you’re trying to make it on a Writing Fellow salary at The American Prospect.