China Matters Goes Another Round on the Matter of the City Journal
In the comments to my previous post concerning the City Journal’s media blitz to the China/India blogosphere concerning Guy Sorman’s The Empire of Lies, Billz1981 quoted from a 2001 article in The Nation:
"...let's accept for the sake of discussion that the right-wing foundations are outgunned in dollar terms. Why, then, are we living in a policy landscape determined by their ideas?. . . Maybe it's because the conservative foundations have spent their somewhat more limited funds--the Manhattan Institute, for all its influence, gets by on ... the equivalent of pocket change for any of the larger, more progressive foundations--quite strategically..." Gara LaMarche, The Nation, April 19, 2001
I am assuming that Billz1981 is employing the honeyed words of the left-friendly Nation to challenge my description of the Manhattan Institute (whose house organ the City Journal is) as “well-heeled” and “battening on the Koch-Olin-Scaife teat.”
If so, Billz1981, prepare to taste my steel.
I went back and read the article in question, Compassionate Aversionism.
If Billz1981’s intent was to advance the reputation of the Manhattan Institute with some selective quotation, in this case failure is the only outcome.
The full quote reads:
Maybe it's because the conservative foundations have spent their somewhat more limited funds--the Manhattan Institute, for all its influence, gets by on a budget of $6.2 million, the equivalent of pocket change for any of the larger, more progressive foundations--quite strategically, eschewing demonstration projects for well-promoted shibboleths about the evils of government like--well, like Heather Mac Donald's [the Manhattan Institute author whose book Gara Lamarche is critiquing—ed]. As Edwin Feulner, longtime president of the Heritage Foundation (a model for the Manhattan Institute), which provided the blueprint for the Reagan Administration in 1981, told the American Legislative Exchange Council late last year, "It is telling that much of the left's distress about our success is aggravated by the skills we've acquired in marketing ideas." Given the success of the right's agenda, the pervasive whine about its marginalization that Mac Donald typifies is particularly galling. She complains about the professional victimhood of welfare rights and minority advocates, but nobody plays the role better than Mac Donald.[emphasis added--ed.]
The point of the article is that the Manhattan Institute is not a grant-dispensing foundation dispensing funding and administering programs as the Ford Foundation and other “liberal” institutions do.
The Institute is an advocacy group purpose-built to discredit state-run social programs and attack government intervention in the market place.
Based on this narrow mission—that of a pro-business lobbying group seeking to shape public opinion—and the relatively low cost involved in producing, procuring, and recycling anti-liberal polemics, my description of the Manhattan Institute as “well-heeled” still stands.
The interesting larger issue is the one raised by Feulner of the Heritage Foundation in the quote above: the “marketing” of ideas.
There is apparently an inexhaustible demand for simple ideas, especially if they benefit rich and powerful groups who don’t want their advantages taxed, regulated, or scrutinized. And the most powerful and marketable idea for the Right has been that liberalism is not just harassing the rich—it’s destroying the world.
It’s a simple idea, one that can be quickly and inexpensively propagated. When there’s serious money involved—both for the lobbying groups and the individuals and enterprises who will benefit from the lobbying—it’s an idea that can take wing, at least on the editorial pages, 24-hour news networks, and blog networks.
The author of the Nation piece, by the way, is not particularly impressed with the “well-promoted shibboleths” that the Manhattan Institute propagates with its “strategically” allocated “pocket change”:
...in the parallel universe in which Mac Donald, Magnet and other City Journal writers dwell, government can't do a thing right. What's most striking about this, from authors who claim to celebrate old-fashioned virtues, is its fundamental dishonesty. It's hard to take seriously intellectuals who, in their ideological zeal to discredit government, ignore all contrary evidence...
Perhaps more accurate truth in packaging for the Manhattan Institute would be "The Gold-Plated Megaphone for Right-Wing Anecdotal Bullshibboleth", but I guess that's not the gateway to corporate and foundation funding.
The consolation for the Left, I suppose, is that the Bush administration has done such an effective job of driving the country into a ditch that the simple idea that the source of all our problems in the Right and solution for all our problems is stripping away its political power has gained a certain amount of traction.
But, to paraphrase Napoleon, God is on the side of the big balance sheets, so I expect that the Manhattan Institute and the City Journal will continue to find ready funding, clever advocates, and eager collaborators for their efforts.
In that context, I’d like to admit that I’ve finally figured out what those Blogger tags are for.
They’re used to help place the Google Ad-sense ads which appear at the top of the site that nobody apparently clicks on.
As soon as my post on City Journal went up, the banner filled with ads promoting the Wall Street Journal, conservative websites, and a passel of organizations offering services to non-profit foundations. Even, bless her, Ann Coulter chose to promote her e-mail service on my humble blog.
All this attention has turned my head.
Therefore, I am tagging this post with references to the City Journal, the Manhattan Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Weekly Standard, the American Enterprise Institute, the Scaife Foundation, the Olin Foundation, and the Koch Foundation. And, of course, Ann.
I urge all my readers to click on the resultant banner ads at least a couple gazillion times to show you care about these admirable institutions and the wonderful corporations that choose to affiliate with them.
I'm not selling out. I'm buyin' in!