Book Review: The Big Con, Jonathan Chait
The Big Con, The True Story of How Washington Got Hoodwinked and Hijacked by CrackpotEconomics
Houghton Mifflin Co., USA, ©2007
In the world I walk in those who bear truth are prized heroes, doesn’t matter if it’s a new way to shape plutonium, exploit a market trend or discover an emerging voting block, those with facts and the correct interpretation are lavishly rewarded. How strange it has been all these years to live in the great American political dichotomy, for in this arena truth, fact and competence were obliterated long ago. CEO’s of multi-billion dollar companies wouldn’t let Bush run a cash register if he worked for them, but they happily voted for him.
Here arrives Jonathan Chait with The Big Con, a masterful story of how this great tragedy happened, how a completely quack economic theory (supply-side economics) became the mainstay of a hack political movement totally dedicated to corporate rule and massive inequality. The Republican Party was hijacked to do it, so that in this instant we all live under lying felons who can barely tie their shoes in a country that’s a total mess.
If Mr. Chait told this tale so well, why is he then not a hero? Why, when all is said and done, is he a sad, lonely figure, evoking a curious mixture of pity, distaste and bafflement for the man?
By initially being so good, naturally, Chait precisely recounts how ludicrous Laffer economic theory was clumsily affixed to a political rationale, fitting so neatly into a Republican party being overrun by authoritarians and corporatists. Lower taxes, lower taxes, lower taxes, the mantra has been viciously enforced for thirty years now, yet this disaster of debt, lying and denial keeps getting Republicans elected. What in the hell?
Chait, a professional “journalist” employed by The New Republic, understandably leaves out half the responsibility of how this happened (continuing Democratic Party failure) but weaves a masterful narrative of the other great duality of American enabling to political hell: media failure.
Corporate media ownership, some dedicated wholly to the GOP (FOX news, talk radio), coupled a Republican party determined to lie and bully in it way to do anything to win, has led to at least half the liberal blogs and websites in existence, blogtopia never would have evolved without the screaming vacuum of medial failure to create the blog environment.
Chait, ever the “journalist,” precisely outlines how GOP crooks and liars were media-enabled with Laffer economics, election 2000, fiscal insanity and demonization of liberal candidates, but then states this on page 142:
“It is certainly not the case that the media have favored Republicans over Democrats”
Is that so? Why then, Mr. Chait, did you just write a book about how the media has done just that? Then on page 256 we get another great pearl of knowledge:
“Liberal blogs exhibit classic paranoid and sectarian tendencies—thinking in Manichean terms, speaking in coded phrases understood by fellow believers, and excommunicating ideological dissidents.”
Chait, master purveyor of reality about his own people and industry, could not in the final moment tell the truth plainly and simply about who he was, what he had just done and what the state of his pathetic profession is, even though the work of his book was freshly all around him. It horribly diminishes the truth of the book, his soul, and his living presence as an American.
The offensively thoughtless characterization of liberal blogs is obviously a weak stab at the amateur fighter writers who continue to be better than him and his colleagues, irrational potent threats to cash flow. This writer just weeks ago affirmed holy allegiance to truth and scientific method of inquiry, while one of the greatest bloggers revered by liberals of all time just published a book refuting everything to do with a Manichean frame of reference.
One is suspicious Chait was deliberately provocative so he could get an impish, seething response of reactive rage he could then pass around to his cosseted Ivy pals with chuckles, iced whiskey and firelight, see how irrationally angry these amateur chumps are? Hmmmm.
Despite these canyons on incompetence on overall American political reality Chait has still performed a masterful and uniquely valuable tale of how the Republican Party has become so horribly twisted, and also the tasks before us to get our country back. So very much worth the money and the time to read. Go in peace, Jonathan Chait, may the mantle of truth you so desperately wish to wear become a burden no longer.