Public policy think tanks generally seek out scholars with expertise in whatever policy area they are expected to work in. Whether you’re talking about the liberal Brookings Institution or the conservative Heritage Foundation, there’s no doubt that those who work there know their stuff. Then there’s the Center for American Progress, which recently announced that its newest senior fellow is a guy known best for being gay and splitting the Anglican world. According to Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion and Democracy:
A politically liberal Washington, D.C.-based think tank announced Tuesday that V. Gene Robinson, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, is joining the organization as a part-time senior fellow.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) said in an announcement that Robinson will focus on issues related to economic justice, immigration, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) rights, health care, and the environment, among others.
“Bishop Robinson will bring his well-respected perspective and experience to this fellowship, helping to discuss and analyze a wide array of policy areas in a progressive religious light,” the announcement said.
Though I disagree with him vociferously on the issue, I will gladly grant that Bishop Robinson has some expertise regarding issues of gay rights. In addition to his personal experience, I assume he has done some study on the matter. On the others, however, I suspect that his level of “expertise” is about the same as that of pretty much all ecclesiastical functionaries, which is to say no more than the average person on the street. Here’s one example:
The Episcopal prelate said he was interested in all of the issues that CAP addressed, but that some, such as economic justice, lent themselves to a religious perspective due to an emphasis on the poor in Abrahamic religions.
“Any of us in any culture is going to be judged by how we care for the most vulnerable among us,” Robinson said. “I hope to focus on issues such as health care reform, immigration reform, the economy, and the ramifications of this jobless recovery.”
“My biggest concern is that we have lost the notion of the common good,” Robinson said. “We are devolving into a, ‘If I’m OK, then to heck with the rest of the world’ attitude. We need to be called back to the common good. It was part of our Founding Fathers’ vision of this country and is certainly part of the progressive agenda in America.”
There’s some truth in this, but no depth whatsoever. It’s something you’d expect to hear from a mainline denominational church-and-society bureaucrat rather than a think tank senior fellow. So what does Robinson have to contribute to the mission of the Center for American Progress in areas other than gay rights? I don’t know. Maybe their cliché generator is broken?