One fun little perk of working at the Cato Institute is the daily e‐mail from our media department listing recent press references. Often, these “Cato Clips” are sources of pride — a Cato scholar being quoted on a good point, or a member of the public citing Cato while making a thoughtful argument in a letter to the editor. Occasionally the clips can be disappointing, as when someone misrepresents or straw‐mans a Cato scholar’s position or misunderstands the institute’s philosophical perspective. (We’re sometimes identified as “ultra‐conservative” and “neo‐conservative.”)
And then sometimes a Cato Clip is just plain baffling. Case in point, yesterday’s clip of an interview with actor John Cusack that appeared in the Detroit weekly Metro Times. The piece includes this bit:
“Do you think all these people work at the Cato Institute?” he continues. “No. Even the people who work at these places, I’ve met them. They don’t have any monopoly or insight into anything. Where does their intellectual or moral clout come from? Nowhere. The guy’s talking in front of a camera, reading from a teleprompter, bitching at people. I know enough to be intimidated by serious men and women, but I won’t be cowed by people like that.”
I don’t know exactly what Cusack is on about here, but he doesn’t seem to like Cato very much. The question is why.
Earlier in the interview he argues that the U.S. should bring back the military draft because people would then be more inclined to oppose U.S. military action. There, he’s definitely at odds with at least one Cato scholar who worries that, by making military labor cheaper, the U.S. would be more inclined to military action. On the other hand, Cusack laments Republican politicians’ use of the threat of terrorism as justification for all sorts of dubious policies. Cato scholars have made this argument repeatedly, including this piece by Ohio State professor (and one‐time Cato visiting fellow) John Mueller.
Anyhoo, if you can explain Mr. Cusack’s comment about Cato, please drop me a line.