The right’s response to the left’s response to the right

THE RIGHT’S RESPONSE TO THE LEFT’S RESPONSE TO THE RIGHT…. We learned late last week that some prominent Republican officials are in the process of creating something called the American Action Network.

Led by luminaries such as Norm Coleman, Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, and Karl Rove — some of the same GOP leaders involved in the “rebranding” debacle of last year — the group was created to … well, that part was unclear. We were told the American Action Network was poised to get moving, but no one knew why.

The NYT fleshes out some of the details today.

A group of prominent Republicans is forming an organization to develop and market conservative ideas, copying a successful Democratic model and hoping to capitalize on the fund-raising and electioneering possibilities opened up by a recent Supreme Court ruling.

The organizers, including former Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the senior policy adviser to Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign, describe their emerging American Action Network as a center-right version of the Center for American Progress, the six-year-old group for progressive policies that was founded by John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and an informal adviser to President Obama.

It’s odd to think we’ve reached this point. When the idea for the Center for American Progress was first coming together, it was widely apparent to progressive leaders that the left lacked the intellectual infrastructure of the right. Conservatives already had plenty of think tanks — Heritage Foundation, AEI, Cato, and to a lesser extent, the Family Research Council — churning out right-wing ideas and serving as something of a farm team for Republican administrations and congressional leaders. The left decided it needed to keep up and create some parallel entities.

And now the right looks at CAP and thinks, “Hey, we need one of those.”

It’s worth noting, though, that the American Action Network intends to go further, serving as a think tank and engaging in partisan politics/campaign activities. Indeed, following the Citizens United case, the American Action Network apparently expect to “take unlimited contributions from corporations and individuals to use to advertise for or against political candidates.” Coming soon to a campaign near you.

As for the policy work, I’ll believe it when I see it. A think tank led by folks like Coleman, Barbour, and Rove helping shape a credible, substantive agenda? Color me skeptical.