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Banned at Heritage?:

In a recent post (linked below), Jonathan Adler cites evidence that the Heritage Foundation, a prominent conservative think thank has "banned" conservatives and libertarians critical of the Bush administration from its events. I don't know enough to comment on Heritage's alleged banning of Bruce Bartlett and Ryan Sager (referenced in the links in Jonathan's post). If Heritage did indeed refuse to invite them to events because of their criticisms of Bush, it is a serious mistake on their part.

I can, however, testify about my own experience. Like Bartlett and Sager, I have been very critical of the Bush administration's big government conservatism, even praising Bartlett's own analysis here and here, and calling for the defeat of Bush's political allies in Congress during the recent election. That has not prevented me from being invited to events at Heritage, including a recent conference on judicial reform for which I received a small fee for my participation. Heritage invited me to that event at the recommendation of a George Mason colleague who has also been highly critical of the Bush Administration. Moreover, the Heritage Foundation has itself issued publications criticizing Bush's big-spending ways on grounds similar to those argued by Bartlett, Sager, and myself. As far back as 2003, Heritage issued a report denouncing what it called Bush's unprecedented "spending spree." They have also criticized numerous other Bush domestic policy initiatives, including his most important new policy - the massive 2003 prescription drug plan, which a March 2004 Heritage study characterized as "a huge mistake."

Again, I don't know if Heritage really did ban Bartlett and Sager from its events. Perhaps the people who made the decision to invite me are not the same ones who decided to ban them. However, it would be strange if Heritage were to start banning people for making criticisms of Bush very similar to those advanced in its own publications.

UPDATE: Bruce Bartlett e-mails:

The Heritage event to which I was uninvited due to my criticism of Bush's policies was not some ordinary one of the type Heritage hosts every day. It was specifically to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1981 tax cut. As far as I am aware, every major living figure involved in the enactment of this legislation was invited except me. I seriously doubt that any are paying contributors to the Heritage Foundation. The organization knows full well about my involvement in the 1981 tax cut because I was a senior fellow at Heritage for three years back in the 1980s before leaving to work for Ronald Reagan in the White House. I was, in fact, the staff person on Jack Kemp's congressional staff who drafted the original Kemp-Roth tax cut, upon which the Reagan bill was based, back in 1977. Many others also contributed. Some of those invited to the Heritage event did not. People can draw their own conclusions about these facts.

There's no question that it looks fishy. At the same time, it still seems strange to me that Heritage would uninvite Bartlett for criticizing Bush on essentially the same points that Heritage's own publications attacked Bush on. If they didn't want to be associated with a person making those kinds of criticisms, why would they make very similar arguments themselves? Still, either Heritage engaged in petty vindictiveness, or there is some kind of misunderstanding.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Banned at Heritage?:
  2. Unthinking Tank -- Heritage Edition:
frankcross (mail):
You haven't written a book bashing Bush, have you?
It's not that uncommon to accept criticisms "within the club" but reject those who broadcast them more widely and loudly.
11.21.2006 2:46pm
Jeek:
Personally, I was more offended that Heritage did invite a notorious plagiarist, proven liar, and lifelong apologist for FDR and LBJ - Doris Kearns Goodwin - to speak than that they did not invite some obscure scribbler who most people have never even heard of.
11.21.2006 2:49pm
Steve:
It's possible that Prof. Somin is not quite as notorious as others who might espouse the same views.
11.21.2006 3:11pm
Ilya Somin:
You haven't written a book bashing Bush, have you?
It's not that uncommon to accept criticisms "within the club" but reject those who broadcast them more widely and loudly.


Fair enough. But I published my criticisms right here at the VC, which is one of the most widely read law and public policy blogs. Moreover, this still doesn't address the point that the criticisms of Bush's fiscal policies by Bartlett and Sager are very similar to those made in Heritage's own publications.
11.21.2006 3:16pm
Adam (www):
You can drop the allegeds -- says Ryan Sager:
Some people have written in asking if I'm really banned at Heritage.

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: yes.
11.21.2006 3:39pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
We get it, bobo. You can stop now.
11.21.2006 4:51pm
BoBo (mail):
But I'm still waiting...anxiously so!
11.21.2006 6:33pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Just curious, in what way is DK Goodwin a "proven liar"? Plagiarist, yes (although a pretty mild case) but also a distinguished presidential historian.
11.22.2006 12:06am
John Jenkins (mail):
eople can draw their own conclusions about these facts.

Okay, the Heritage people don't like you or Ryan Sager.
11.22.2006 12:37am
Enoch:
Mild case of plagiarism? Dozens and dozens of phrases from three separate books, involving thousands of words in over 90 pages? And that's just The Fitzgeralds and The Kennedys - there is also a serious question of dishonesty in No Ordinary Time.

I expect more from Harvard than that, even if she is only a fawning court historian.

As for her being a liar, the case is pretty clear. She lied about her plagiarism, claiming that she did not do so and provided extensive footnotes, until the case against her was so crushing that she could no longer sustain the lie and had to cough up a large sum in hush money.
11.22.2006 12:43am
anonVCfan:
blog post < book
11.22.2006 7:52am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Fair enough. But I published my criticisms right here at the VC, which is one of the most widely read law and public policy blogs. Moreover, this still doesn't address the point that the criticisms of Bush's fiscal policies by Bartlett and Sager are very similar to those made in Heritage's own publications.


I suspect that in making your criticisms of the administration's fiscal policies, you tried to be responsible and constructive in your criticism. As opposed to trying to cash in on the ABB market by writing a book with an inflammatory title that disingenuously accuses the president of being an "[i]mposter."
11.22.2006 10:54am
A.S.:
Thorley Winston is exactly right.

Criticism that is well-mannered and constructive = acceptable.

Criticism that is nasty, vindictive, and hateful = banned.

How hard is that to understand?
11.22.2006 12:56pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
I read "Imposter" and many of Bruce's NRO columns and thought his criticism was measured, accurate and not inflammatory. "Imposter" was widely publicized, including nationally distributed columns, and the machine was goosed when subsequent firing from NCPA made lots of noise, and the left jumped all over this compelling narrative of "Conservative tells truth, Ousted" or (actual NYT headline) "In Sign of Conservative Split, a Commentator Is Dismissed. Its that notoriety and adoption by the left that, I believe, makes him persona non grata where the "in-house" criticisms on "one of the most widely read [by conservatives, I'd think] law and public policy blogs" or in the Heritage policy papers or website do not matter enough to cause a similar reaction.

If one wanted to be particularly churlish, there might be some resentment in the fact that Bartlett smelled out Bush's profligacy well before other commentators (except maybe Brian Reidl), and the Heritage reaction is against the physical presence that would remind them of how they abandoned their principals to support the GOP's current iteration before finally, ultimately, too late, coming to their senses.
11.22.2006 4:52pm
guy in the veal calf office (mail) (www):
PS, please note that what you cite as a Heritage issued report from 2003, was a "webmemo" posted in 2004. Also, by 2004 nearly everyone understood that the 2003 prescription was a disaster built on falsified projections, the real trick was pointing that out before enactment, as a certain NRO columnist did.

And no, we're not related and our only communication was a few emails where I completely disagreed with him on the estate tax. I just think he got a raw deal because he became a left cause celebre through no intent of his own. We should not turn on our own like that when they're just telling the truth.
11.22.2006 5:06pm