Not a Single Think Tank Policy Blogger-Entrepreneur


The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today its roster of 2008 Fellows, each of whom receives $500,000 — no strings attached.
Here is the roster.
They have some cool folks — a diverse crowd, all sorts of backgrounds and ages. But not a single think tank policy blogger-entrepreneur. Not one.
— Steve Clemons


5 comments on “Not a Single Think Tank Policy Blogger-Entrepreneur

  1. David says:

    “…unless they were to award someone like Fred Kagan for lifetime achievement in prevarication.”
    Thank you, JohnH. Providing that chuckle is most appreciated.
    This are a marvelous pastiche of deserving folk. It doesn’t get any better than the lady in Bayou La Batre. And hurrah for Jennifer Tipton (you’d never guess that theater was included in my community college teaching responsibilities, would you?)


  2. JohnH says:

    From the credentials and accomplishments of these folks, it’s pretty obvious why there is no one from a think tank on the list–unless they were to award someone like Fred Kagan for lifetime achievement in prevarication.
    A smart fellow recently commented that the last thing to expect from think tanks is thinking. From what I’ve seen, think tanks are mostly about creative propaganda and innovative public relations for their underwriters. If someone at a think tank were ever bold enough to speak truth to power effectively, then they would deserve an award…which might help tide them over until they found a job in a new career.


  3. rich says:

    I’m aware of that. Nearly all are already established as thinkers and doers, and are in the prime of their careers.
    I did not say they were “unknown.”
    That does not mean they get massive recognition, or have much in the way of resources at their disposal.
    They’re picked based on their accomplishments and short-term potential impact. Their work clearly deserves more support than they have access to or is generally available. And that cannot be said of think tankers or foreign policy arena in general, where the resources and recognition has a permanent, national stage and draws the admiration of tributaries of every political stripe.
    Big difference.


  4. MarkL says:

    There have been some Macarthur grants to already prominent matheticians in recent years. It’s not just about the unknown “genius”.


  5. rich says:

    Will Allen. Friends and colleagues work with him. The thing about the MacArthur Fellows is they really get it right, and the selection of Allen, as with Jillian Banfield and Majora Carter (and the others!), demonstrates their unassailable judgment.
    The MacArthur grants tend not to focus on foreign policy, though they named Bruce G. Blair a few years back. And there’s room for writers in general: Mark Danner, author of The Massacre at El Mozote and Torture and Truth, was named as well.
    Think tank policy guys already have resources at their disposal. They tend not to make much of a stink over the use of the Salvador Option in Iraq. And while I’m sure there’s room for policy specialists and blogger-entrepreneurs, the MacArthur Grants puts an emphasis on key human rights practitioners and would be much more likely to fund those working to fix the War Powers Act, not assisting those codifying and exacerbating what’s wrong with it (Christopher & Baker).
    I don’t see the Carlyle Group funding biologists or artists or food systems guys. I see them funding Ann-Marie Slaughter’s confabs, self-branded as centrist alternatives, that host the same policy players that’ve always had a seat at the table.
    So you can’t actually be feeling left out? Excluded? The MacArthur Genius Grants are for those who don’t get recognition and don’t have access to significant resource pools. You’ve got ooodles of both. Though I believe you’re deserving, that makes all the difference. MacArthur grantees are practitioners who’re making a difference on the ground. They’re irreplaceable.
    Think-tank blogger-entrepreneurs can’t be at the head of every line. Just go straight for the Nobel.
    “Fellows have been named from a range of disciplines. Past recipients have been writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, farmers, and fishermen, among many others.”


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