Jonathan Chait

Jonathan Chait is a senior editor at The New Republic and former assistant editor at The American Prospect. Has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, Reason, and other publications.

Recent Articles

Books in Review:

Crashing the Party: How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President By Ralph Nader. Dunne Books, 400 pages, $14.95 Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon By Justin Martin. Perseus Publishing, 288 pages, $26.00 The central element of Ralph Nader's public appeal is, and has always been, honesty. He built his image in the 1960s as an almost comically earnest man, eschewing all worldly comforts and tirelessly uncovering the facts. His most famous campaign advertisement from 2000 contrasted "campaign ads filled with half-truths" with righteous Nader himself, filmed in a cramped office, sleeves rolled up, "finding out the truth," as the narrator explained. And he plays upon this aura in his campaign memoir, subtitled How to Tell the Truth and Still Run for President . For a man in Nader's position, though, this is a less impressive claim than it sounds. Major-party candidates, who aspire to cobble together a governing majority, must shade their views to hold together a diverse coalition of voters...

Nader: Influence for Good or Ill?

Dear Bob, In stating that the Prospect invited me to review Nader's book, you're too kind. I actually invited myself, and I intended all along to use my review for a broader discussion of Nader. I don't believe the editors I worked with had any different impression. I didn't "blame" Nader for the right-wing business backlash of the 1970s. I pointed out (as an aside) that Nader discounts President Bush's depredations by predicting they will lead to a progressive counter-mobilization. If we accept this calculation, I wrote, it is only fair that we discount Nader's triumphs by the conservative counter-mobilization he did incite. You argue that "any reading of postwar history" will refute the notion that Nader inadvertently goaded 1970s conservatism. In fact, my New Republic colleague and Prospect contributor John Judis writes in "The Paradox of American Democracy" that much of business's political activity was actually public-minded, rather than narrowly interested. His book discusses...

The Contender?

Thanks to virtually simultaneous articles last month by Joshua Green in The Washington Monthly and Jonathan Chait in The New Republic , the notion that Republican Senator John McCain should join the Democrats and run for president in 2004 has been everywhere. Indeed, on Hardball host Chris Matthews recently asked McCain himself about the notion. The senator responded, "I am very entertained by that …." But there's nothing funny about a field of lackluster Democratic candidates, and Green and Chait weren't trying to be entertaining. They were serious, and their articles have received serious response, including from Seth Gitell in the Boston Phoenix , who wrote that "McCain is too socially conservative to run as a Democrat" but argued that the Democratic party needs a candidate with McCain's foreign-policy strengths. TAP Online invited Chait and Gitell to continue their debate over whether McCain should be the Democrats candidate. We asked Chait to begin with a response to Gitell...

Devil in the Details

Gingrich vs. Free Trade House Speaker Newt Gingrich deserves creativity points for coming up with a new reason to oppose the minimum wage. Not only will it kill jobs, the Speaker told the Washington Post , but it could give Mexico a competitive advantage in some industries. It's a curious argument coming from a man who, when campaigning for NAFTA, argued that Mexico's lower wages would not give it a competitive advantage. Perhaps what he really meant was that Mexico would not gain an advantage as long as American wages continued to fall. Mandate Madness Of the initial Republican Contract proposals, few had greater bipartisan support than the measure to limit the federal government's ability to impose upon the states "unfunded mandates," or any requirements that don't come with funding to cover their costs. Not only did most Democratic members of Congress and the president endorse the idea, but so did nearly all opinion makers. "It would simply require explicit majority votes in both...

Devil in the Details

DEFICIT HYPOCRITES, I The classic definition of "pork barrel" is spending that members of Congress load onto bills to benefit their constituents. Now it has become the choice term in attacks on public spending of all kinds. And, with the summer 1994 debate over the crime bill, "pork" acquired racial overtones and took on the meaning of expenditures targeted at the inner city. Seizing upon examples such as midnight basketball, Republican opponents of the bill indiscriminately declared all urban social programs unkosher. Do these cries of pork come from tight-fisted budget hawks? Hardly. Take a few items from a recent appropriations bill, the classic serving plate for political pork: The incoming Republican chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Pete Domenici, who lambasted the crime bill for "excessive pork barrel spending," was able to secure a $3 million grant to the National Center for Genome Resources to help small businesses in New Mexico and a $250,000 grant to the city of...

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