Daniel W. Drezner

The top ten perks of being a nonresident senior fellow

This past week your humble blogger added another affiliation to his bio, as he has now joined the Brookings Institution as a… wait for it… nonresident senior fellow with the Managing Global Order project. Now, those who live and breathe the mores and rhythms of DC’s think tank community are already aware of the awesome ...

This past week your humble blogger added another affiliation to his bio, as he has now joined the Brookings Institution as a… wait for it… nonresident senior fellow with the Managing Global Order project.

Now, those who live and breathe the mores and rhythms of DC’s think tank community are already aware of the awesome rights, responsibilities and entitlements that comes with this honorific. Those not in the wonk priesthood, however, might wonder. Clearly, "nonresident" implies I’m not moving to DC. But what are the other perks of being a nonresident senior fellow?

The better way to phrase this query is — what aren’t the perks of being a nonresident senior fellow? It’s almost as cool as being a full professor, for Pete’s sake!! To list all the perks would take too long. Here are, in order, the top ten benefits to being a nonresident senior fellow at a think tanks, however:

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.

 Twitter: @dandrezner

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