Jonathan Chait

Pay Check

A FEW MONTHS AGO, when Democrats proposed letting workers form unions without elections, Republicans recoiled in horror, issuing ringing paeans to workplace democracy. “After two hundred-plus years of our American democracy, it is breathtaking to see the right to a secret ballot rejected so flatly and so strongly,” said Representative Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, in a typical example of the Jeffersonian rhetoric then coursing through Washington. Today, Democrats are proposing to let a company’s shareholders hold an advisory vote on how much they pay their CEO. Sounds democratic, right?

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Matthew Continetti has a long article in The Weekly Standard this week about the decline of the liberal hawk. The Standard, of course, has been railing for months against critics of the war as cowards. Continetti's article is a more fleshed-out version of that worldview--an attempt to interpret the sharp criticism from liberal ex-supporters of the war as fecklessness. It's not that Continetti strongly disagrees with the liberal or Democratic analysis of Iraq. It's that, in nearly 4,000 words, he makes no attempt to explain or engage with that worldview.

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Most political activists can point to one catalyzing event, an episode in each of their lives (or, more often, in the life of their country) that shook them from their complacency and roused them to change the world. You can find many such stories if you troll through the netroots, the online community of liberal bloggers that has quickly become a formidable constituency in Democratic politics. But the episode that seems to come up most often is the Florida recount.

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Character Flaw

Of all the low points during the Bush administration, perhaps the most surreal was the week in December 2004 when Bernie Kerik was poised to become secretary of Homeland Security. By the traditional measures used to judge qualifications for this sort of job, Kerik was not an ideal candidate. The main points in Kerik's favor were his loyal service to Rudy Giuliani, first as driver for his mayoral campaign, then corrections commissioner, then police commissioner--the last of which was commemorated by the casting of30 Kerik busts.

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[Editors Note: In the latest issue of TNR, Jonathan Chait took a long look at the rise of the netroots as a major force in American politics. Eric Alterman and Matthew Yglesias responded here, with a reply by Chait. Today, more bloggers push back and Chait provides a final rebuttal.] Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers Rick Perlstein Ezra Klein Jonathan Chait   Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers One of the strategic problems confronting the Democratic Party is how to bridge the divide between centrist organizations and new progressive, Internet-based power centers.

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Most political activists can point to one catalyzing event, an episode in each of their lives (or, more often, in the life of their country) that shook them from their complacency and roused them to change the world. You can find many such stories if you troll through the netroots, the online community of liberal bloggers that has quickly become a formidable constituency in Democratic politics. But the episode that seems to come up most often is the Florida recount.

READ MORE >>

Most political activists can point to one catalyzing event, an episode in each of their lives (or, more often, in the life of their country) that shook them from their complacency and roused them to change the world. You can find many such stories if you troll through the netroots, the online community of liberal bloggers that has quickly become a formidable constituency in Democratic politics. But the episode that seems to come up most often is the Florida recount.

READ MORE >>

Eric Alterman's reply to my cover story on the netroots is mostly agreement framed as disagreement. I write about how the conventional wisdom in Washington and the pressure to be seen as responsible caused mainstream liberals and journalists to miss reality. My point is that the netroots have helped break down one epistemological prison but have created another. Neither the David Broder method of establishing truth nor the Markos Moulitsas method of establishing truth is very reliable.

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TNR Editor Franklin Foer interviews Jonathan Chait about this week's cover story, "The Left's New Machine." Chait studied the liberal blogs for a year and paid close attention to their tone, their ticks, and their hobby-horses. Here, he discusses who, exactly, constitutes "the netroots," what function they serve for the American press, and their role in correcting what he says is a distorted political debate.

The Flack Gap

In the wake of the fired-prosecutor scandal, I have become rather alarmed at the low quality of the pro-administration spin. I may note a supporter of this administration, but I am an American who wants his government to function well in all areas—including lacking, obfuscating, and misleading the public. There was a time when this administration's apologists were the envy of the world.

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