Christopher C. DeMuth (born August 5, 1946, in Kenilworth, Ill.) is an American lawyer and a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute. He was the president of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank, from 1986 to 2008. DeMuth is widely credited with reviving AEI's fortunes after its near-bankruptcy in 1986 and leading the institute to new levels of influence and growth. Before joining AEI, DeMuth worked on regulatory issues in the Ronald Reagan administration.
Education and career
DeMuth attended the Lawrenceville School, graduating in 1964. He graduated from Harvard College in 1968, after which he worked at the White House. In his youth, he was a member of the politically moderate Ripon Society. After attending law school at the University of Chicago, he worked for law firm Sidley & Austin, the Consolidated Rail Corporation, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
When Reagan took office in 1981, DeMuth joined the administration as administrator for information and regulatory affairs at the Office of Management and Budget and executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief. He was known as Reagan's "deregulation czar."
DeMuth later ran an economics consulting firm and edited and published AEI's Regulation magazine.
Presidency of AEI
DeMuth is said to have read AEI publications as an undergraduate and used them as a lecturer at Harvard. He was appointed president of AEI at a time of crisis for the institute, after the turbulent presidency of William J. Baroody Jr. AEI was a respected institution, but Baroody had been careful to keep AEI in the political mainstream. DeMuth returned the institute to its conservative and small-government principles, allowing it to compete with think tank the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute, and bringing in more money from conservative foundations. DeMuth restored AEI's financial fortunes, eliminating $9 million in debt and generating an asset balance of over $75 million. He also more than tripled AEI's budget during his presidency.
DeMuth presided over the institute as a number of high-profile scholars joined AEI, including Charles Murray, Dinesh D'Souza, Richard and Lynne Cheney, Michael Barone, James K. Glassman, Newt Gingrich, Karl Zinsmeister, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. As many as twenty AEI scholars served in the George W. Bush administration. AEI scholars also influenced the administration. Announcing his departure from AEI in 2007, DeMuth noted that the Iraq surge strategy was devised at AEI. DeMuth oversaw the creation of an AEI magazine, the founding a joint center on regulation with the Brookings Institution (DeMuth was a fellow at the center), the expansion of AEI's publications, the founding of AEI's National Research Initiative to underwrite and promote research by university-based academics and independent scholars, a reorientation of AEI's foreign policy division to focus on the Middle East, and the merger of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest into AEI to form the AEI Legal Center for the Public Interest.
In addition to promoting the role of think tanks in public policy research and the flexibility that they have in developing innovative ideas over long periods of time, DeMuth has also been bullish on the role of the corporation in American life. "[T]hey are . . . the single most important positive force in American politics," he said in 1992. "The corporation is the transmission belt of much of our saving, prosperity, and progress. It is the place where many Americans pursue their vocations and spend most of their lives," he said in 2007. "The corporation is a vital, reality-based counterweight to those for whom politics is primary."
DeMuth announced his retirement as president in October 2007, and became a senior fellow at AEI at the beginning of 2009. His announcement was met with praise and criticism. Conservative writers referred to him as "charming" and "brilliant" and wrote: "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." Liberal critics noted their general disapproval of AEI, and one referred to DeMuth as a "hack extraordinaire."
Since retiring as president of AEI, DeMuth has held the D. C. Searle Chair there, researching government regulation, culture, and American politics.
DeMuth is married to Susan DeMuth, a physician, and they have three children. He is a board member of the State Farm Insurance Companies, and the Donors Capital Fund; chairman of two family businesses; and a grant adviser to the Searle Freedom Trust and the Smith Richardson Foundation, both of which contribute to AEI.
He is distantly related to the painter Charles Demuth.
- Christopher DeMuth and William Kristol, eds. The Neoconservative Imagination: Essays in Honor of Irving Kristol. Washington: AEI Press, 1995. (ISBN 0844738999)
- Robert W. Crandall, Christopher DeMuth, Robert W. Hahn, Robert E. Litan, Pietro S. Nivola, Paul R. Portney. An Agenda for Federal Regulatory Reform. Washington: AEI Press, 1997. (ISBN 0-8447-7104-X)
- Christopher DeMuth and Yuval Levin, eds. Religion and the American Future. Washington: AEI Press, 2008. (ISBN 978-0-8447-4259-5)
- NNDB, "Christopher DeMuth"
- "Former AEI president Christopher DeMuth leaves for Hudson Institute", Washington Post, 12.22.2011
- American Enterprise Institute, "Christopher DeMuth to Resign as AEI President in 2008," news release, October 11, 2007.
- White House, "Appointment of Christopher C. DeMuth as Administrator for Information and Regulatory Affairs and as Executive Director of the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief," news release, September 30, 1981.
- Gregg Easterbrook, "Ideas Move Nations," The Atlantic, January 1986.
- Max Schulz, "DeMuth, Christopher," in American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, ed. Bruce Frohnen, Jeremy Beer, and Jeffrey O. Nelson (Wilmington, Del.: ISI Books, 2006).
- George W. Bush, "President Discusses the Future of Iraq" (speech, AEI Annual Dinner, Washington, February 26, 2003)
- Christopher DeMuth, "Think-Tank Confidential," Wall Street Journal, October 11, 2007.
- Adam Meyerson, "Captain of Enterprise," Policy Review (Spring 1992).
- Christopher DeMuth (introductory remarks, AEI Annual Dinner, Washington, March 7, 2007).
- David Frum, "Christopher DeMuth," David Frum's Diary, October 11, 2007; and Jonah Goldberg, "End of an Era," The Corner, October 11, 2007.
- Timothy Noah, "Chris DeMuth: Hack Extraordinaire," Slate, October 11, 2007.
- Christopher DeMuth's profile at the American Enterprise Institute's website
- DeMuth's personal website
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Arthur C. Brooks