President Lawson Bader, left, and founder Fred Smith celebrate "passing the torch" Thursday at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. (Photo courtesy of Katherine Ruddy)

Most think tanks are earnest places — and then there’s the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “People say, ‘CEI has fun people, but some of them are crazy,’” said new president Lawson Bader. The free-market libertarian group threw a “passing of the torch” party Friday — founder Fred Smith is handing the reins to Bader — and because it fell on Scotland’s Robert Burns Night, there was haggis, kilts and plenty of Scotch.

CEI is known for good parties. “I recognized that intellectuals were dour, and that the war was going to be a long one,” Smith explained. “In warfare, you need R&R; in our world, that means having fun while you fight. And we do have fun.”

After 29 years, Smith, 72, figured it was time to give up the top job (he’s not leaving and won’t use the word “retirement”): “You know the great line, ‘The graveyards of the world are full of irreplaceable people.’ ”

(An earlier version of this post said the “passing of the torch” party occurred Thursday night. It was on Friday. This version has been updated.)

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