TAC’s Jordan Bloom blogged something the other day about the struggle for the soul of the CATO Institute. Even so, I had no idea things were as bad as Jonathan Adler reports on Eugene Volokh’s blog , [corrected from earlier — RD]regarding the Koch brothers forcing new board members on CATO:

Let’s take a look at a few of these new board members of ours.  Kevin Gentry is a social conservative activist who’s also vice-chair of the Virginia GOP.  Nancy Pfotenauer is a former spokesperson for the McCain campaign who has argued on television in favor of theIraqwar and the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy pertaining to gays in the military.  Ted Olson is a Republican super-lawyer who’s never identified himself as a libertarian.

Just before the last shareholders meeting, the Koch brothers also nominated –but were unable to elect – eight additional individuals for our board.  Those nominees included the executive vice president of Koch Industries, a staff lawyer for Koch Industries, a staff lawyer for the Charles Koch Foundation, a former Director of Federal Affairs for Koch Industries, a former Executive Director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (and who was, incidentally, a McCain bundler), and a lifelong Wichita friend of Charles Koch.  Aside from those functionaries, they also nominated a couple of people with public profiles that make the jaw drop:

  • John Hinderaker of the Powerline blog, whose firm counts Koch Industries as a client. Hinderaker has written, “It must be very strange to be President Bush.  A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice.  He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.”  Hinderaker supports the Patriot Act and the Iraq War and calls himself a neocon.
  • Tony Woodlief, who has been president of two Koch-created nonprofits and vice president of the Charles Koch Foundation. Woodlief has blogged about “the rotten heart of libertarianism,” calling it “a flawed and failed religion posing as a philosophy of governance” while complaining about libertarians “toking up” at political meetings.

That’s really something. I’m not a libertarian at all — in fact, my social conservatism is at times diametrically opposed to libertarianism — but it seems pretty clear to me that if the Kochs have their way, CATO will cease to be libertarian in any real sense, and will instead become yet another mainline GOP ideas factory. That would be a loss.