Synopses & Reviews
American politics has been hijacked. Over the past three decades, a fringe group of economic hucksters has corrupted and perverted our nations policies. With dark, engaging wit, Jonathan Chait reveals how these canny zealots first took over the Republican Party and then gamed the political system and the media so that once unthinkable policies -- without a shred of academic, expert, or even popular support -- now drive the political agenda, regardless of which party is in power.
Why have these ideas succeeded in Washington? How did a clique of extremists gain control of American economic policy and sell short the countrys future? And why do their outlandish ideas still determine policy despite repeated electoral setbacks? Chait tells the outrageous and eye-opening story, expertly explaining just how politics and economics work in Washington. Through vivid portraits of venal politicians and pseudo-economists, with wry analyses of their bogus theories, Chait gives us the tools to understand whats really behind economic policy debates in Washington: a riveting drama of greed and deceit.
"'The author, a senior editor at the New Republic, is best known for declaring 'I hate President George W. Bush' in 2003. This book traces the roots of his dislike back 30 years, when supply-side economics took over the Republican Party and made cutting taxes the GOP answer to all political and economic questions. 'American politics has been hijacked by a tiny coterie of right-wing economic extremists,' Chait declares, 'some of them ideological zealots, others merely greedy, a few of them possibly insane.' To which he adds, 'the Republicans' success at defeating the democratic process explains why it has been able to enact its agenda despite a lack of popular support.' The rhetoric is inflammatory, but the case is laid out with clarity. Chait claims that traditional Republicans, religious people and social, fiscal and foreign policy conservatives have been cheated as much as liberals, and that unparalleled corruption and ruthless cynicism in Washington and the timidity of nonpartisan media allow the minority to rule. His analysis should appeal to anyone interested in politics, though many may find the style too irritating to endure. (Sept. 12)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Chait is both very serious and seriously funny as he traces the rise of conservatism over the past thirty years." --Michael Kinsley
"Jonathan Chait has nailed a large and important story about . . . the bamboozling of America . . . he writes with a mordant wit." --Sean Wilentz
"Jonathan Chait has written a classic of political journalism . . . Prepare to be shocked." --Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker, Moneyball, and The Blindside
"Who says economic policy has to be dry? [Chait] brings a lively wit and a limpid style to the topic." --Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor, National Review, and author of The Party of Death
"Agree or not with the author's liberal beliefs, consider this a stimulating analysis of how public policy is formulated today." Kirkus Reviews
"His analysis should appeal to anyone interested in politics" Publishers Weekly
"[If] you're only going to read one book [about what's wrong with the modern Republican Party], this is the one." --Kevin Drum, Washington Monthly
About the Author
Jonathan Chait is a senior editor at the New Republic and writes the magazine's signature TRB column. He is a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times and has written for many publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, and the Wall Street Journal.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments vii Introduction 1
Part I: The Transformation of the Republican Party 1. Charlatans and Cranks 13 2. The Sum of All Lobbies 45 3. Driving Out the Heretics 80 4. The Necessity of Deceit 115
Part II: The Corruption of American Politics 5. Media: The Dog That Didnt Watch 139 6. How Washington Imagines Character 159 7. The Abuse of Power 189 8. The Mainstreaming of Radicalism 219
Conclusion: Plutocracy in America 262 Notes 267 Index 284