Earlier this year, Tevi Troy wrote an outstanding essay for National Affairs
discussing the increasing politicization and decreasing credibility of think
tanks over the last decade or so. This phenomenon is driven by the desires of
donors who increasingly view think tanks as tax-advantaged vehicles for
influencing political outcomes.
Today’s appointment of Tea Party Senator Jim DeMint to lead the Heritage
Foundation provides an example of this trend, but with a twist. The DeMint
choice signals a shift toward more conservative activism from one of America’s
largest think tanks and is sure to please conservative donors. But it’s not
likely to provide donors the political results they want. Instead, it is likely
to reduce the relevance of both DeMint and Heritage.