Manhattan Institute

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The Manhattan Institute for Public Policy Research is a neoconservative think tank founded in 1978 by William Casey, later to become Reagan's CIA director. David Frum, who coined the Axis of Evil term, came to the Bush administration from the Manhattan Institute in 2001. Several neocon icons such as William Kristol are on their board of trustees. The Institute publishes the quarterly City Journal.

The Manhattan Institute was a favorite source used by Dubya's team during his 2000 presidential campaign. Many of Bush's proposals floated during the 2000 presidential debates came from the Manhattan Institute. They were also a favorite source of policy proposals for Rudy Giuliani during his tenure as mayor of New York City.

Playing both sides[edit]

According to Brian Doherty, in Radicals for Capitalism, the rule of thumb around the Manhattan Institute is don't ever use the "libertarian" label around here because it will alienate conservative supporters. Yet despite this and their neoconservative orientation they keep a foot in the libertarian camp as well, mainly through work with the network of laissez-faire think tanks funded by Koch Industries, and such libertarians as eugenicist Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, who was with the Manhattan Institute when he wrote his first book, Losing Ground. The Manhattan Institute receives Koch funding as well as the other usual sources: Richard Mellon Scaife, the Olin and Bradley Foundations, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (no, really), and the tobacco industry.

On immigration: one of the leading voices in support of a "path to citizenship," Tamar Jacoby, and one of the leading voices against same, Heather Mac Donald, are both from the Manhattan Institute.

Likewise, they play both sides on environmentalism, where they eschew the overt denialism in favor of some truly wonky think tank work. The Manhattan Institute sponsored two books by Peter Huber, Hard Green and The Bottomless Well. The former book proposed that conservatives adopt a partially pro-environment position by claiming the mantle of Theodore Roosevelt while opposing the "soft" environmentalism of Al Gore. The latter book is a slick but confusing snow job on energy - essentially trying to make a case that waste is a virtue and the more energy wasted leads to greater energy independence - with such chapters as "Saving the Planet with Coal and Uranium" and numerous charts and graphs which would be a field day for someone to deconstruct.

They even court Democrats; linguist John McWhorterWikipedia is their go-to guy for token criticisms of affirmative action and the non-existent Cloward-Piven strategy. He loves using anecdotal evidence.[1]

All in all, a confusing and often contradictory think tank, but perhaps symptomatic of the contradictory makeup of American conservatism. No wonder Bush and Giuliani liked them.

City Journal[edit]

Contributors to this the include:


  1. Spelling Trouble, The New York Times