Today’s Observer story on Rudy Giuliani peeks into his intimate relationship with the conservative Manhattan Institute. Last year, they report, at an Institute award ceremony, Giuliani credited them with masterminding a huge portion of his platform.
“If there was kind of like a charge of plagiarism for political programs, I’d probably be in a lot of trouble because I think we plagiarized most of them, if not all of them, from the pages of the [Institute publication] City Journal and from the thinking and analysis of the Manhattan Institute.”
The Observer suggests that this is a unique scenario, where a candidate’s “policy dossier is built nearly from scratch on the theories of academics.” “I can’t imagine any other instance or any on the horizon where a think tank has that direct an influence,” author Tom Wolfe told the Observer. He may be right about a think tank in specific terms, but in general this story looks familiar. We can’t help but recall a time not long after our last president was elected when journalists began pointing out how strongly George Bush and his team were influenced by the thinking of German Jewish political philosopher Leo Strauss.
Strauss was a University of Chicago professor who influenced — either directly or through his devotees — Bush advisers Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, William Kristol, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. You may recognize those names as people credited with being the architects of Bush’s neoconservative foreign policy.
We’re not sure the extent to which the thinkers at the Manhattan Institute subscribe to Straussian philosophy, if they do at all. But anyone who was worried by the influence of that school of thought over Bush should take heed of today’s Observer article, if only to remember that it is the thinking of one group, and one group alone, that seems to craft Giuliani’s fundamental policy. And maybe, if we’re lucky, we can get people to start using the word “cabal” again in everyday conversation!