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She probably should have known better, and sure seemed to have known so once.

Neera Tanden’s tweets appear to have caused her a lot of trouble. The nonprofit Center for American Progress president and longtime Democratic operative, at this writing, remains President Joe Biden’s nominee to direct the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. But …

The Tanden nomination “is all but officially dead, with moderate senators like Joe Manchin citing her often hostile, partisan and personal tweeting as a reason to vote against her,” as Blue Tent’s Trip Brennan put it yesterday in “Live By The Tweet, Die By The Tweet.”

She probably should have known better, and sure seemed to have known so once. During a 2012 Bradley Center for Philanthropy and Civic Renewal event at the Hudson Institute, “Are Think Tanks Becoming Too Political?, Tanden said

I’d very much disagree with this idea about the research world declining, and I take the point very seriously. There is, in many ways, too much commentary coming out of think tanks. I’m pushing all our teams to focus more on analysis and less on commentary. But there is a lot of commentary out there.

(Emphasis supplied.)

Yes, yes, there was. Has been, still is. And we should all take note, whatever our worldview.

Nonprofit think tanks have institutional, and their leaders have proper professional, roles to play. Research and analysis are proper and important parts of think tanks’ role. Pre-tweet Tanden ’twas right.


1 thought on “Neera Tanden’s tweets, the trouble they’ve caused her, and the proper role of nonprofit think tanks”

  1. Avatar Drew Anderson says:

    You are being very generous to Ms. Tanden. I expect her over 1000 intemperate tweets now removed went beyond a gentle research versus commentary contrast. She must have thought she was only speaking on social media to her true believers. I don’t think I ever read such type extreme statements by Christopher Demuth, Arthur Brooks , Ed Crane or Ed Feulner.

    The modern think tank tries to be relevant in the policy world as well as have a well qualified , respected analytical voice. Most donors don’t want to fund a study that sits on a shelf that has no impact on people’s lives or the problems we face. The older bright line was to argue issues and solutions but avoid lobbying by not referencing specific legislation.

    Now boundaries are being pushed. Some think tanks have formed other related groups to go beyond commentary and become active in DC and on the Internet. It’s is ironic that her comments on a need for less commentary and more research are associated with a photo showing her speaking at the political action arm related to her 501(c) 3. Her non-profit think tank and others have found it useful to found a separate political type component that can raise large amounts of money that can be more active in the political world.

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