Saturday, June 7, 2008

Brain Trust

What the new "progressive think tank" Terra Nova will produce in the way of ideas to rejuvenate the Left remains to be seen, but it has already generated a prodigious amount of publicity, suggesting at the very least a certain media savvy that can't hurt the left wing of the political spectrum either. The president of the organization is Olivier Ferrand, a Strauss-Kahnian, who is interviewed here by the blogger versac. Ferrand claims to derive inspiration from the Center for American Progress, the brainchild of John Podesta, Bill Clinton's former chief of staff. Among his competitors on the left he sees Vincent Peillon's Institut Edgar Quinet (close to Royal), Manuel Valls "hypothetical" Cercle 21 (on the right end of the PS), and Benoît Hamon's La Forge, founded with green Noël Mamère, as well as Les Gracques and the Institut Montaigne in the center (but the latter's budget is 3 million euros a year compared to only 1 million for Terra Nova). A formidable advisory committee of experts has been assembled. The idea is to serve as an intermediary between academia and practical politics by preparing policy papers on a range of issues, intervening in public debate with op-eds and think pieces, etc.