- Ezra Klein: "Arthur Brooks is a snappy dresser and his think tank really matters...he is now wearing a huge, cool silver watch and big, colorful cuff links. You are, I think it is fair to say, the nattiest of the think tank executives I know."
- Arthur Brooks: "Think tanks are an industry that grew out of academia and academia is the dowdiest possible way of making a living."
- Arthur Brooks: "AEI reached out to me to become a visiting scholar...before that I was actually a donor to AEI. I was writing checks to AEI even before joining the think tank."
- Arthur Brooks: "The reason many think tank presidencies haven't ended so well is because nobody knows what the industry standard is supposed to be."
- Arthur Brooks: "We don't have any corporate positions at AEI...in fact, we bring in people who don't share our mission precisely to 'murder board' our ideas."
- Arthur Brooks: "Half of economists [at AEI] think a carbon tax is good and half think it is bad...you should hear them yelling in the hall."
- Arthur Brooks: "We do 350 events per year [at AEI.] We invite people who disagree with our view. We regularly have people from the Center for American Progress (CAP) and give them the podium."
- Ezra Klein: "And you [AEI] are known for having the best food."
- Ezra Klein: "You can find a think tank to justify anything."
- Ezra Klein: "The think tank world in DC is a very cheap way of buying credibility."
- Arthur Brooks: "You often hear 'center-right AEI' but there is no qualifier for liberal think tanks like Brookings. And there is a tendency [by the media] to stick a finger in stuff by the center-right."
When asked what think tank is the most interesting right now (besides AEI), Brooks said there are a lot of interesting ones at the state and local level, and cited the State Policy Network (SPN) and Goldwater Institute.
And since Think Tank Watch tracks all the world's fantasy/made-up think tanks, we should mention that during the interview, Ezra Klein (purposely) invented his own think tank - The Institute for Competitive Freedom.
Update: Here is a list that AEI's Michael Strain put together in National Review of his favorite quotes from Think Tank Watch's favorite quotes of the Ezra Klein interview of Arthur Brooks.