No Relation No. 16: God Bless New America

Monday’s Washington Post features a profile of Ted Halstead, founder and president of the New America Foundation. How do you tell the difference between two new American think tanks, the New America Foundation and the Project for a New American Century?

The 33-year-old Halstead bills the New America Foundationas a nonpartisan think tank that embraces the “radical center.” Halstead co-authored a book with that name (The Radical Center: The Future of American Politics) with New America co-founder Michael Lind. Their book promotes a variety of ideas, including class-based affirmative action, school vouchers, instant runoff voting, and the replacement of employer-based health insurance with mandatory self-insurance. (Halstead likes to sketch out schemas that he hopes will transcend the traditional left-right divide. In 1999, he wrote an Atlantic Monthly cover story called “A Politics for Generation X.”)

New America fancies itself as the think-tank version of a venture capital firm, finding and investing in promising young voices and talent. Soon after New America’s founding in 1999, Halstead said the organization had a “general bias” toward those under 40 and that New America’s fellows would write articles for leading op-ed pages and magazines rather than spend time on monographs and journal articles. (Click here for one in Slate.) Fellows include Debra Dickerson, Robert Kaplan, Jedediah Purdy, and Margaret Talbot.

The Project for a New American Centurypromotes a robust neoconservative foreign policy that includes a significant expansion of defense spending and the promotion of American principles such as economic and political freedom abroad. Robert Kagan and William Kristol co-founded PNAC in 1997, and Kristol writes on its Web site that PNAC is “dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for American and the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle; and that too few political leaders today are making the case for American global leadership.” Current members of the Bush administration that signed PNAC’s statement of principles in 1997 include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.

PNAC was the inspiration for one of the ideas (“American Imperialism, Embraced”) in the New York Times Magazine’s “Year in Ideas” issue. The main source in the article was Tom Donnelly, who often serves as PNAC’s public face. For example, Donnelly appeared on Hardball last Wednesday to argue in favor of removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.

Neither the New America Foundation nor the Project for a New American Century is related to the New Century Project (John Kasich’s political action committee) or the New American Century PAC.

The Yes Related element: Francis Fukuyama serves on the New America Foundation’s board of directors, and he signed the Project for a New American Century’s statement of principles in 1997.

No Relation Flashback: Robert Kaplan is a senior fellow at New America. Robert Kagan is a project director at the Project for a New American Century. And Donald Kagan signed PNAC’s statement of principles. Click here to sort out the differences.

Explainer thanks Steve Chapman for asking the question.

Previously in the “No Relation” series, Explainer tackled John Knowles and John Fowles,  Josh Bolten and John Bolton; Robert Kagan, Lawrence F. Kaplan, and Robert D. Kaplan; Lawrence Kudlow, Robert Kuttner, Paul Krugman, and Robert Krulwich; Linda Chavez and Linda Chavez-Thompson; Marty Peretz and the Meretz Party; the McCulloughs and Macaulays;the Gessens, Glennys, and Kaczynskis; the Cohens (three Stephens, four Richards); the Rays(two Elizabeths); the Hirschfelds(Abe and Al); the Strausses (Robert and R. Peter); the Broders  (Jonathan, John M., and David); the Moores (three Michaels); and the Samuelsons (Paul, Robert, and Larry). Explainer has also handled in “Yes Related” the Pipes, the Negropontes, and the Eskews.

Have you noticed people in the news with confusingly similar names? Send your suggestions to Explainer.