Friday, January 8, 2016

Top 10 Perks of Being a Nonresident Senior Fellow at a Think Tank

This is a 2013 piece from Daniel Drezner that Think Tank Watch just came across.  At that time, Drezner had just become a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Managing Global Order project at the Brookings Institution.  [The project became the Project on International Order and Strategy (IOS) in February 2014, perhaps because the original name was too much of a target for conspiracy theorists.]

Here is the list:

10) Now all of my talks can be shorter. Before any academic or policy talk, a speaker usually receives an introduction in which the convenor reads the person’s bio. If the speaker has lots of awards, affiliations, and publications, then this process can take a while, cutting into the speaker’s allotted time. Secretly, all speakers want this, cause it means they don’t have to remble on as long. Adding the Brookings affiliation will cut my talks by at least thirty seconds.
9) I’m now one affiliation away from the PACT. A key plot device in 30 Rock was Tracy Morgan’s quest for the EGOT — Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Oscar awards. Foreign policy wonks have a similar quest, except it operates by affiliations: Press, Academia, Consulting, and Think Tankery. Adding my nonresident senior fellow appellation to being a Fletcher professor and a contributing editor here at FP, I now have a PAT. The only thing missing is the for-profit consulting gig. I’m looking in your direction, Stonebridge Group and/or McKinsey!!
8) 50,000 frequent flyer miles with an airline of my choice. This sounds like a great perk, but really, it’s just so that I can be conversant in frequent flyer-speak when bumping into other nonresident senior fellows at conferences:
ME: So did you get upgraded on this flight?
OTHER WONK: Oh, yeah, but that’s because I’m Super Premium status. You?
ME: No, and I was willing to use miles too!!
OTHER WONK: Oh, no, never use your own miles!! See, what you should do it… [long disquisition about the art of frequent flyer mile management.]
You get the idea. 
7) Officially one of the old boys now. The "senior" is a tipoff — I can no longer declare "Young Turk" status. Instead, I’m clearly part of an old boy network of some kind or another. Which will, inevitably, lead to attacks from Glenn Greenwald. 
6) Attract a much better class of groupies. Oh, sure, as a full professor I get the entreaty from a student willing to do just about anything to get an RAship/grad school admission/job. DC, however, attacts a much more desperate and stylish set of aspirants. Indeed, within 24 hours of becoming a nonresident senior fellow, my LinkedIn profile was beseiged with requests ranging from "I’m just dying to polish your memos" to "I feel like I’m the only research assistant who gets you — I mean, really gets you!!" 
5) One free black helicopter ride. I have every confidence that the sovereigntists in the crowd are already freaked out by the "Managing Global Order" moniker. AS YOU SHOULD BE!!! Who do you think supplies the black helicopetrs to the United Nations? Before we do, however, a nonresident fellow can pick where in the country the brand-spanking new black helicopter can buzz, just to freak out some locals. I, for one, am looking forward to a quick, below-the-radar trip through the Texas panhandle. 
4) Playing the Lincoln card.  All nonresident senior fellows run into bureaucratic impediments at some point or another.  Once a year, I can pull the Lincoln card out of my wallet, and utter the following: "I am a nonresident senior fellow, clothed in IMMENSE POWER!  You will procure me these PowerPoint slides." 
3) Preferential treatment at the Old Ebbitt Grill.  For years, I used to make reservations at this venerable DC establishment and still find myself cooling my heels and not impressing my date as more distinguished Beltway denizens would just waltz on in.  Not anymore!!  Now I just flash your "Nonresident Senior Fellow" gold card to the maitre d’hotel and — KABLAMM!! — my date and I are enjoying the finest champagnes in the land.  This is a much more civilized way of exerting power than the more old-fashioned method in which — as I understand it — the men simply unzipped their flies and compared penis sizes. 
2) At least ten more seconds of air time on CNN. Cable news nets will let senior nonresident fellows blather on for at least two more sentences before interrupting duing an interview. 
1) "Nonresident Casual Fridays." One Friday, every other month, the nonresident fellows show up at the Brookings Institution very early, camp ourselves in the offices of the resident fellows, and scare the bejeezus out of them when they walk in. Alternatively, we prank call the senior resident fellows, pretending to be a White House flack asking for permission to vet them for a prominent subcabinet position.

He notes that being a Nonresident Senior Fellow is "almost as cool" as being a full professor.  Considering that nonresident fellows and nonresident senior fellows at think tanks are almost never paid, we would think so.

And although unpaid, it doesn't mean that nonresident fellows can't be fired.