This is how independent policy institute Chatham House describes what it does in its own "About Us" section:
Chatham House carries out independent and rigorous analysis of critical global, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities. It consistently ranks highly in the University of Pennsylvania's annual Global Go To Think Tank Index, where it has been assessed by its peers as the No. 1 think tank outside the US for seven consecutive years and No. 2 worldwide for the past four years.
The institute's award-winning reports, papers, books and other research outputs are a vital resource for leaders and policy-makers in government, the private sector and civil society. International Affairs, Britain's leading journal of international relations, was founded by and is edited at the institute. The institute's magazine, The World Today, provides authoritative analysis and up-to-date commentary on current topics. The Chatham House library has one of the longest-standing specialist collections of material on international affairs in the United Kingdom. The collections are digitally archived and searchable.
So when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential Republican candidate for president in 2016, headed over to London to talk trade, obviously the thing to do is to ask him whether he believe in the theory of evolution. From Reuters:
"That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other," Walker said during a question-and-answer session at Chatham House, a London think tank.
Walker is visiting the United Kingdom this week to promote trade with his Midwestern state. The trip also could burnish his international resume in the early stages of the 2016 presidential race. …
"I'm here to talk about trade, not to pontificate," he said. "I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin."
I'm sure some science-minded libertarians and conservatives would have just preferred he gave a simple "yes" to avoid exactly this kind of story that completely ignores anything Walker may have actually said about trade. Now the story is this silly nonsense that has zero impact about any sort of pending or potential federal policy. Reuters attempts to tie it to both public opinion polls about support for the theory evolution (has anybody ever voted for a president on the basis of his opinion on the theory of evolution?) and recent controversies about science and vaccinations. At least there are genuine policies connected to vaccinations at play (which, nevertheless, have nothing to do with the president).
So after one of the best think tanks in the world asks this pointless question, Reuters takes it even further and lets a Democratic functionary get a dig in as some sort of mandated balance:
In a statement, Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Holly Shulman said, "All Walker showed today was the same ducking and dodging Wisconsinites know all too well, and that we've come to expect from the 2016 GOP field, whose policy positions are just too divisive to share."
What "policy positions" are there connected to Walker's attitude toward evolution? Is he going to launch the sentinel project and try to hunt down the X-Men? Yes, I know, there's this fear that a Republican presidential administration will go mucking around with federal education standards. Well, news flash: We're going to have a Republican president again someday, no matter how much some may loathe the idea. Rather than worrying about how a president's personal scientific beliefs may influence government policy, let's divorce those policies from the government in places where they are unnecessary. You know what will help: school choice. Rather than worrying about what the president believes, let parents find schools that share their educational outlooks.
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