December 11, 2012

Dana Milbank [“With DeMint, the think tank has tanked,” Sunday Opinion, Dec. 9] seemed to mistake his own opinions for facts when he attacked the choice of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) as the next president of the Heritage Foundation. Mr. Milbank clearly doesn’t like the positions the senator has taken over the years, and that is his right. But he shouldn’t pretend that they couldn’t be based on an objective analysis of the available data.

Mr. Milbank took issue with Mr. DeMint’s comment that “freedom is dissolving.” Is he aware that, for three centuries, a tenet of conservatism (as well as of classical liberalism) has held that there is an inverse relationship between government and personal freedom? The growth of one means the erosion of the other.

Mr. Milbank also suggested that Mr. DeMint’s view that President Obama’s stimulus was “a fraud” disqualifies him from leading Heritage. Does he read The Post? Four years after the $787 billion “stimulus,” the economy is growing at a pace of 2.7 percent, and unemployment is at 7.7 percent. How does Milbank define “fraud”?

And so on. Mr. Milbank is entitled to dislike Mr. DeMint and Heritage. (Does Mr. Milbank feel the same way about Russell Kirk and John Stuart Mill?) But Mr. DeMint’s views are supported by scholarly research and make him well-qualified to lead a think tank.

Over the next few years, we will see a battle of ideas, and it will be waged from our offices at the Heritage Foundation, as we explain how mainstream policies that reward hard work, effort, thrift and strong families result in prosperity and opportunity, and how liberal policies harm individuals, their families and civil society. The combination of Mr. DeMint’s intellectual acumen and Heritage’s fact-based research will fulfill the nation’s needs at this moment. We understand if liberals are discomfited.

Mike Gonzalez, Washington

The writer is vice president for communications at the Heritage Foundation.

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