Question: What happens when you put a crack pot in charge of a conservative think tank?
Answer: He/she turns it into a crack pot think tank.
No matter what you might think of the Heritage Foundation, putting Tea Partier Jim DeMint in charge of it was not a very smart idea. Heritage is supposed to be the bastion of the most awesome conservative thinking there is on the planet so why would they approve of a man who says crazy things like this?
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The fact that the Heritage Foundation put him in charge at all is reason enough to question their mental capacity and now they are harvesting the rotted fruits of their labor.
From its inception in 1973, the Heritage Foundation has provided the blueprint for the Republican Party’s ideas in Washington. In doing so, it has proved to be the most durable organization of its kind.
But under Mr. DeMint, a South Carolinian who gave up his Senate seat last year to take the helm, Heritage has shifted. Long known as an incubator for policy ideas and the embodiment of the party establishment, it has become more of a political organization feeding off the rising populism of the Tea Party movement.
In recent months, some of the group’s most prominent scholars have left. Research that seemed to undermine Heritage’s political goals has been squelched, former Heritage officials say. And more and more, the work of policy analysts is tailored for social media.
Under Mr. DeMint, the research arm of Heritage has been all but consumed by Heritage Action, which, some former officials and members of Congress say, has weakened the Heritage Foundation’s influence on Capitol Hill, alienated all but the right fringe of the Republican Party and marginalized the serious research that had been a Heritage Foundation hallmark.
“DeMint has not only politicized Heritage, he’s also trivialized it,” said Mickey Edwards, a founding trustee of the Heritage Foundation and a Republican former congressman. Further, its critics say, Heritage Action has undermined the goals of the Republican majority in the House, prompting some congressional Republicans to turn their backs on the group, refusing to meet with its members and shutting them out of hearings.
In 2012, Paul Krugman (above video) rightly predicted what would happen to the Heritage Foundation after naming Jim DeMint its new leader.
"I'm more interested in what does this do to Heritage?" the liberal economist continued. "I mean, this is somebody who has no sense that he's a researcher or an academic, anything like that. This is sort of taking the think out of the think tank, right? This is turning into a purely political institution."
And that has indeed happened. And their supposed experts are fleeing quickly now also:
In recent months, the exodus of top experts and administrators has accelerated. Among those to leave are the economists J. D. Foster and William Beach; Matthew Spalding, the foundation’s director of American studies; Michael Franc, its vice president for government relations; and Alison Acosta Fraser, its director of government finance programs.
Replacing them with Stephen Moore/Fox news talking head types is also very ridiculous.
The Heritage Foundation has recently brought on the economist Stephen Moore from The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and Katrina Trinko from National Review, two hires known more for their advocacy journalism than their scholarship.
The Heritage Foundation is now reaping what it sowed. Good luck.