The Hot New Americans Get Hotter

Can the New America Foundation possibly get any hotter? Three of its scholars made the list of new thinkers proclaimed “the best and the brightest” in the current issue of Esquire. Now comes word that all but one of the 13 policy essays in a 36-page special section to appear in the January/February issue of Atlantic Monthly magazine are by writers closely associated with New America.

What’s more, New America and the Atlantic plan to make the jointly produced “State of the Union” feature into an annual event.

“We want this to become an occasion where we assess the real state of the union, what the empirical situation is and ways we can do better to meet the country’s needs,” said Scott Stossel, Atlantic senior editor. “The actual [presidential] address has become an occasion for empty pomp and circumstance . . . a distillation of the two parties talking past each other. We wanted to cut through that.”

David Bradley, the policy impresario who owns the Atlantic, National Journal and Hotline, suggested the special relationship with the nonpartisan New America. Bradley is a pal of Ted Halstead, the founder of New America (Halstead also writes the introduction to the section). James Fallows, the Atlantic’s national correspondent and its marquee writer, is the chairman of New America’s board of directors and writes the concluding essay.

In between, a dozen New Americans hold forth on a potpourri of policy prescriptions. Katherine Boo, a senior fellow currently on leave from The Washington Post, offers a battle plan for winning the war on child poverty; the ubiquitous Jedediah Purdy, the New America fellow who has been featured in both the New York Times Magazine and a “Saturday Night Live” sketch, declaims on “social trust”; and Senior Fellow Shannon Brownlee asks whether Americans get too much health care.

The only non-New American to make the cut: Jonathan Rauch, a columnist for National Journal and a writer in residence at the Brookings Institution. The writers will be paid standard contributor’s rates, Stossel said. New America gets nothing, other than beaucoup exposure, which of course is priceless.

The magazine had briefly considered going to Brookings or another nonpartisan tank for talent. But Brookings “is a bit more staid, and we wanted access to fresh and innovative thinking; many of [New America’s] fellows are youngish, under 40,” Stossel said. “Their basic policy stances squared with ours and they had new, young talent we wanted to take advantage of.”

THE FINALISTS INCLUDE . . . The Council on Foreign Relations will decide in January on a replacement for Leslie H. Gelb, the Pulitzer Prize-winning former journalist and top State and Defense official, who’s headed the organization for the past 10 years.

Sources say a long list has been winnowed down to, among others: Richard Haass, a veteran of the Pentagon, the National Security Council and now head of policy planning at the State Department; former undersecretary of state Arnold Kanter, a founder of the Scowcroft Group; Sylvia Mathews, former Clinton White House deputy chief of staff and now at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Edward P. Djerijian, former ambassador and assistant secretary of state and now director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

CATO RULES CYBERSPACE: The latest ranking of Web site usage is just out and the folks at Yahoo are cheering, “We’re Number 1!” while over at the Cato Institute they’re crowing “We’re Number 18,323!”

Those libertarian free-thinkers have every reason to celebrate: They may not have yet broken into the Top 10,000. But Cato’s Web site was the most popular think tank site over the past three months, reports the Alexa rating service, the Nielsens of Web site usage that daily tracks every site.

In comparison, the Heritage Foundation ranked 31,764th. The American Enterprise Institute finished in 75,357th place, followed by Brookings at 127,529th.

Cato also was ranked at the top of the class in the latest NetScore ratings, based on the number of “unique visitors” who came to call at a Web site during September. A total of 188,901 drop-bys were recorded, easily surpassing Heritage with 157,019, Brookings (111,229), the Center for Defense Information (99,644 ) and Rand (85,664).

All of this comes after Cato was named recently the “Best Advocacy Website” by the Web Marketing Association — more evidence that while libertarians don’t hold sway in Washington, they rule cyberspace.

And Yahoo, the top-rated Web site, better look out. At the time the rankings were compiled, Cato stood in 18,323th place. But on Monday, Alexa reported that Cato has surged into 16,198th.

PEOPLE: The Progress and Freedom Foundation is opening a new Center for the Study of Digital Property and has hired James V. Delong as its director. DeLong currently is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, where he has written extensively on technology issues. The new center will study intellectual property issues related to the Internet and other digital technologies.

Danielle Doane returns to the Heritage Foundation to oversee relations between the tank and the House of Representatives. Doane, who worked at Heritage a decade ago, comes from Citizens for a Sound Economy. She also spent five years on Capitol Hill working for Rep. Dan Miller (R-Fla.).