Thursday, October 11, 2007
It is just remotely possible that there may be someone whose contributions to American intellectual life over the past two decades have equaled those of Christopher DeMuth, who announced yesterday his retirement from the presidency of the American Enterprise Institute. In 1986, Chris and his deputy and colleague David Gerson assumed responsibility for a nearly bankrupt and broken small-scale Washington think-tank. Over the next 21 years, Chris and David built AEI into the planet's best-known policy research institution.
Surely nobody however has achieved what Chris has achieved at the cost of such superhuman personal costs. Chris is not just a great executive: He is also a brilliant scholar himself. He sacrificed his own intellectual work, his own books, his own articles in order to create opportunities for others. He worked 90 hours a week so that others could have leisure to think. He broke arms across corporate America to raise the funds so that others never needed to worry about how their work would be supported.
If ever anyone has earned his own leisure, and the right to think his own thoughts, and the accolades awarded to brilliant innovation in the life of the mind, it is Chris DeMuth. Everyone at AEI is heartbroken by news of his decision to step down. Everyone is overjoyed at the prospect that soon we will have him as a colleague: and that we in our turn will have some opportunity to help him in his work as he has helped all of us in ours. David Gerson is staying on to play his indispensable role in the management of this great institution. A search committee will seek someone to sustain and extend their achievement. Floreat!
10/11 10:03 AM