Dylan Matthews

Dylan Matthews was a summer 2008 Prospect editorial intern.

Recent Articles

THE SMALLEST THINGS ARE CRUSHING ME NOW.

By Dylan Matthews At a certain level, I really want to agree with Bruce Ackerman's argument here . His main proposal - requiring Senate confirmation for senior White House staffers like the Office of Health Reform chairperson or counsel to the president - seems like a nice, principled reform that makes a lot of sense in theory. After all, Larry Summers has at least as much influence on Obama's economic policy as Tim Geithner - why should only one have to face Senate scrutiny? But Ackerman gives the Senate far too much credit. Take the Geithner/Summers example. Now, you can criticize Geithner for a lot of things, but it would ludicrous to attribute his failures to his tax delinquency while at the IMF, or to even suggest the two are related. Similarly, while I'd be the first to argue that Summers is too cautious at times, long hearings about his views on women and science or his hijinks with Andrei Shleifer wouldn't have made him any more effective at the NEC. Ackerman also cites the...

BRING YOUR POSSE, BRING YOUR CREW.

By Dylan Matthews Eric Kleefeld - who's been covering the legal nitty-gritty of the (still!) ongoing Senate battle in Minnesota for months now - comes bearing some potentially good news . Due to the relative speed of the arguments from Al Franken's lawyers, a Minnesota election law specialist, David Schultz, is now predicting that there'll be a ruling on Norm Coleman's election challenge before the month is out. That doesn't mean that Franken will be seated by April - Coleman would appeal, probably all the way to the state Supreme Court - but it does seem to indicate that this whole charade will be over by summer. Given as that's when the Senate is set to consider health care reform, it appears that Obama will have 59 Democratic votes in place for that fight. It won't beat a filibuster, but it'll make peeling off the necessary Republican support a whole lot easier.

THERE WAS A LINE, THERE WAS A FORMULA.

By Dylan Matthews Thanks to Ezra for having me over again; it's good to be back. So Andy Grove thinks Obama is being too ambitious. And Fred Hiatt thinks I should care, so Grove gets to express this view on the Washington Post op-ed page, pretentious Machiavelli quote and all. Look, Grove is a smart guy. He's incredibly good at selling integrated circuits, and if he had written a piece on the chip industry, I'd be inclined to believe every word. But he's a hardware executive, not a political operative, regardless of his vague claims to "40 years' experience, much of it managing change." And the vacuity of the piece illustrates just how dissimilar the two tasks are, or at least how poorly an executive's skill-set translates to policy planning: I have found that to succeed, an organization must travel through two phases: first, a period of chaotic experimentation in which intense discussion is allowed, even encouraged, by those in charge. In time, when the chaos becomes unbearable, the...

DIFFERENT THINGS ARE DIFFERENT.

By Dylan Matthews Shorter Jonathan Chait : "I cannot believe that international and domestic politics are distinct phenomena." Okay, that's a bit unfair. But the point he's making is pretty odd. True, most liberals support increased engagement with "unfriendly" regimes abroad, and many also think negotiating policy with some domestic opponents is counterproductive. Chait paints this picture with way too broad a brush, but it's a fair observation. That said, it's just silly to chalk this off to differing "assumptions about human nature", as Chait does. Positions on negotiation aren't first-principles convictions rooted in political philosophy, they're strategic arguments rooted in empirical observation. I don't support negotiating with Iran out of a belief in the inherent goodness of man; I support negotiating with Iran because the US has pursued the opposing strategy for the past 30 years, with fairly disastrous results. Similarly, I don't think liberals should avoid negotiating with...

IN TOO DEEP.

By Dylan Matthews My friend and fellow New Hampshire-ite Garrett Nelson raises an interesting point about the Gregg gambit . Regardless of whether Obama eventually appoints him, or whether he eventually accepts, Gregg's reputation among the Republican base has been badly damaged by his statement that he's considering the post. Combine that with his support for Romney in the primaries - which hurt him within the strongly pro-McCain NH GOP - and you've got the makings of a primary challenge here. The most likely challenger would probably be Jennifer Horn (aka "New Hampshire's Sarah Palin" ), but any number of obscure state senators could make a decent run at him. Though he'd win the primary, Gregg could be sufficiently bloodied up to give Rep. Paul Hodes - currently behind by only seven points - a good shot in the general. So it may be that, even if there was little in it for Gregg in this deal originally, he's gone too far to back down. If the choice is between losing a costly election...

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