Brookings Loses Bid on Orszag but Takes Kagan From Carnegie

Yesterday, when I was at this meeting with Special Representative to Muslim Communities Farah Pandith and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Cheryl Benton, Benton asked me off camera if I followed the LeBron James stuff. I sheepishly had to say that I had thought LeBron James was a soccer player -- and when I learned later that he was a baseball, oops, basketball player -- I felt even dumber than I should have on the subject.

While I don't know squat about sports -- I do watch the think tank all stars pretty closely.

For instance, Peter Orszag will not be going back to his home institution of Brookings after his role as OMB Director and is instead headed to the Council on Foreign Relations.

But Brookings is getting another prize.

Word has just reached us that Robert Kagan, currently Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is moving his franchise over to Brookings.

While Brookings President Strobe Talbott can staff himself on Russia, China and India -- three big stakes foreign policy challenges -- it seems that much of the foreign policy team -- particularly in Brookings Foreign Policy Chief Martin Indyk, Saban Center Director Ken Pollack and now Robert Kagan -- is hardening its capacity on the Israel/Iran front.

Kagan -- next to Francis Fukuyama, Elliott Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz, and David Frum -- is one of the top tier serious intellectuals among neoconservatives, though it's clear that Frum and Fukuyama have distanced themselves from the broader movement to establish their own reformist franchises.

Kagan's move is important for Brookings as the institution has been working hard to get Haim Saban to give another large infusion of resources to his namesake unit, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, at Brookings. Securing Kagan is one way that Brookings may have sweetened the pot for Saban who is according to one Brookings source "painfully flamboyant" about using his money to try and influence the DC establishment through think tanks and other vehicles to secure Israel-first, Israel-defending policies out of Washington.

-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note. Clemons can be followed on Twitter @SCClemons