Book reviewer on The Plank

Jonathan Chait isn’t particularly surprised by Matt Bai’s NYTBR review of Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson’s Off-Center. “Given the topic and the reviewer,” he says, “the outcome was as inevitable as if Communist Party chief Earl Browder had been tapped to review Animal Farm.”

He goes on:

Bai seems unable to engage with the book in any way. Its arguments hit him in the forehead and bounce straight off. Hacker and Pierson document why unpopular policies are enacted without consequence…. To Hacker and Pierson’s claim that Democratic domestic policies are popular despite the fact that they’re losing, Bai retorts that: the Democrats are losing. The book “conveniently fails to acknowledge what exit polls have made starkly clear — that middle-income white men have fled the party by the planeload in recent elections, providing the Republican margin of victory,” he writes. I can hardly think of a less germane rebuttal. (“The Jungle conveniently fails to acknowledge that tens of millions of Americans enjoy eating meat.”)


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