Welcome to TNR’s 2011 list issue. Yesterday we named the most powerful, least famous people in Washington. Today’s installment: DC’s most over-rated thinkers. NEWT GINGRICH Maybe it’s the Ph.D., his extensive bibliography, or his constant appearances on Fox News, but Newt Gingrich has held on to his reputation as the “ideas man” of the Republican Party for too long. Last May, when Gingrich was contemplating a run in 2012, Eric Cantor swooned over his intellect and The Washington Post published a story headlined: “Newt Gingrich has Ideas.
My plan is to stay here blogging the next couple of days, and since it's my last couple of days at TNR, I may as well go out in a blaze of hippie-punching. Democratic message consultant Drew Westen, whose New York Times cri de coeur of liberal frustration gained wide acclaim despite, or perhaps because of, its massive factual and historical errors, has another piece responding to your truly. He begins by implying that my response to him was part of a coordinated administration campaign: [I]n a cover story in The New York Times a month ago, I questioned whether he has it in his DNA to lead.
Jonathan appeared last night on Charlie Rose with Drew Westen and Fareed Zakaria to discuss rhetoric and reality in the Obama presidency. Watch the entire clip below:
Any time you go on a live program, especially one with multiple guests, there are things we want to respond to but never get a chance to say. Two spring to mind from my appearance on Charlie Rose: 1. Drew Westen said that I painted him as a person who had never been to Washington. I never said that. Read my item responding to Westen. 2. I defended President Obama's position on stimulus because he can't get Congress to pass any more stimulus. Fareed Zakaria defended it by arguing that further stimulus is unwise. I think that's very, very wrong.
Jonathan Chait will appear on Charlie Rose tonight to discuss what he recently called “Drew Westen’s Nonsense.” Check your local listings!
There are some strong criticisms to be made of the Obama administration from the left, especially concerning Obama's passive response to the debt ceiling hostage crisis, and his frightening willingness to give away the store to John Boehner. I've made many of these criticisms myself. But Drew Westen's lengthy, attention-grabbing Sunday New York Times op-ed is not a strong criticism. It's a parody of liberal fantasizing. Westen is a figure, like George Lakoff, who arose during the darkest moments of the Bush years to sell liberals on an irresistible delusion.
In June 2004, I went door to door in a white, working- class neighborhood of Martinsburg, West Virginia, a small blue-collar town in decline. There, I found voters disillusioned with both the Iraq war and the flagging economy. But, when I returned five months later-- the Sunday before the election--I had difficulty digging up anyone who didn't plan to vote for George W. Bush.