The Heritage Foundation of late has been subsumed to the bare-knuckle Heritage Action, the result being a diminution in the influence and intellectual integrity of the foundation. It is therefore cause for conservative celebration that Wall Street editorial board member Stephen Moore is being brought in as the foundation’s chief economist. Moore is pro-growth, pro-immigration — a cheery conservative warrior. If allowed free rein — and I can’t believe he would have taken the job unless he was assured of intellectual freedom — he has the ability to restore Heritage Foundation’s luster and to help introduce the far right to a more affirmative agenda.
The Heritage board should go further, however. Former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint was hired, in essence, for the wrong job to head the foundation. He is, however, a right-wing brawler who founded the Senate Conservatives Fund and has led the charge for the shutdown and for purifying the GOP from the Heritage Action podium. He is not a scholar, but a pol. He is not apolitical, as the head of a 501 3(c) tax-exempt organization must be. So leave Moore to head Heritage Foundation and send DeMint to Heritage, where he can knock himself out railing at compromise, moderation and the “establishment” GOP.
That, in turn, would do two things. First, it would remove DeMint and his political team imported from his Senate and political operation from the foundation and thereby remove any taint of politicization (not to mention bring Heritage Foundation in alignment with purpose of the 501 3(c) designation). Second, it would be truth in advertising for Heritage Action — call it Purity Action — which isn’t the arbiter of conservative thought but of a brand of political thought. If it is so appealing, it should be able to stand on its own, without the “Heritage” moniker to give it unearned prestige.
At any rate, it is a good sign, indeed, that Moore has been brought in to rescue the foundation. At least some on the board and others in the organization have realized the foundation is bleeding personnel and losing credibility. A restored Heritage with an intellectually astute and engaging figure like Moore is precisely what the conservative movement needs. But they need to let Moore be Moore.