It's official: conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, former host of CNN's now-defunct "Crossfire" and his failed MSNBC show "Tucker," has joined the CATO Institute. Carlson, who briefly flirted with a presidential run by running for the presidency under the Libertarian Party's banner and then decided against it, will be serving as a senior fellow at the think tank.
According to a press release on CATO's website, Carlson will do the following:
Carlson will use his initial time with Cato to focus on writing a book on the state of the American polity. Through other writings as well as media and public speaking appearances, he will also seek to educate the broader public about how the libertarian philosophy differs from the standard liberal and conservative orthodoxies embodied in the two main U.S. political parties.
The next paragraph of its press release caught my eye, enabling me to shake my head in disbelief:
"Tucker Carlson is one of the most effective communicators of libertarian ideas in the nation," said Cato founder and president Ed Crane. "We are delighted to have him associated with Cato as a senior fellow."
First of all, Carlson is not "one of the most effective communicators of librtarian ideas." He's not a libertarian; he's a conservative. He may have a libertarian bent in his conservative thinking, but he's a conservative. It is true that he has come out against the war in Iraq and the War on Drugs, but he's not a consistent defender of liberty. He's not even a radical. Sure, he has expressed his admiration and respect for Ron Paul many times (he had Ron on his show during the course of his presidential campaign) and had been involved with his campaign. (Interestingly enough, one MSNBC toadie who had filled in for Carlson on his old show bashed Paul on December 27, 2007 for openly and truthfully declaring that the United States didn't need to have its own civil war to end slavery.) But he is a conservative of the Barry Goldwater-style variety. His view on independent migrants a.k.a. "illegal aliens" epitomizes my point.
Second, why CATO? Why not the Ludwig von Mises Institute? CATO serves the interests of the beltway "cosmopolitan" libertarian crowd that embraces Milton Friedman's Chicago school of thought. CATO is not truely liberarian; it's libertarian only when a Democratic government and a Democratic president are in power. They were neither libertarian nor attempting to be libertarian when Bush was in power for eight years. In fact, many of its key personnel were (and still are) big supporters of the Republican Party, including Bush. Not a single peep came from them (with the exception of a very few) when Bush dragged us into Iraq, called for and launched the U.S. Department of Homeland Stupidity (I mean, Security), and signed into law the Military Commission Act, the Patriot Act, and the REAL ID Act (among many draconian and pro-state bills).
Carlson may be feeling at home in the think tank's D.C. offices, but CATO's Ed Crane calling him an "effective communicator of libertarian ideas" hardly passes the ideologically pure smell test.
[Cross-posted at The Freeman Chronicles.}