Matthew Yglesias

Matthew Yglesias is a senior editor at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a former Prospect staff writer, and the author of Heads in the Sand: How the Republicans Screw Up Foreign Policy and Foreign Policy Screws Up the Democrats.

Recent Articles

Domestic Bliss

The near simultaneous release of Bill Clinton's memoirs and some good news on the job front has afflicted the right with a case of cognitive dissonance. Clinton, as you'll recall from the nineties and today's commentary, was lucky rather than good. Presidents don't really have all that much influence over short-term economic trends, which are mostly in the hands of the Federal Reserve and the business community. Bush, however, deserves full credit for the current growth spurt though not, of course, the blame for the recession that followed his inauguration or the long jobless recovery that followed. In reality, they were closer to right the first time. Liberals, meanwhile, have taken to arguing that the economy isn't really very good. The job growth comes in the context of a long period of labor market weakness that's nearly without precedent. Most of the gains, meanwhile, have been captured by higher corporate profits, while wages continue to lag behind inflation. This is all true,...

It Ain't Lyin' If…

When we last discussed the topic of Iraq's alleged relationship with al-Qaeda, my main goal was to have a little fun at Stephen Hayes' expense. The recent release of the 9-11 Commission's report on the subject, however, has returned the topic to the front burner of the public discourse. The result has been to lead the media into a semantic quagmire: Are "connections" the same as "collaboration?" What about "control?" It's reminiscent of similar debates as to whether the administration ever called the Iraqi threat "imminent" or merely "immediate." I studied philosophy in college, which I never thought would come in handy in any sort of professional pursuit. In the course of doing so, however, I did take several courses on the subject of semantics and studied Paul Grice's theory of "conversational implicature." As aptly summarized by Kent Bach, the point is this: What a speaker implicates is distinct from what he says and from what his words imply. Saying of an expensive dinner, "It was...

See Dick Run

When President Bush put forward his demand for a congressional resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, several moderate Republican Senators, including Dick Lugar, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, initially balked. The president, they felt, simply hadn't laid the groundwork for an effective military campaign. They began working with Senate Democrats on constructing a compromise resolution that would contemplate the use of force while restricting the president's power to go to war without a U.N. resolution and broad international support. For a brief moment, it looked like a done deal. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, it was announced that Dick Gephardt, leader of the House Democrats, had cut a deal -- a total capitulation to the president's demands, in fact -- with the White House, undermining the negotiating power of Senate Democrats and GOP moderates alike. The result was not only the Iraq War as we know it, but to put many congressional Democrats, John Kerry...

No Exit

Move to Washington, D.C., and you'll meet a lot of people who work for the government. Consequently, many of my recently made friends lucked into a day off on Friday, as the Republican Party proclaimed that federal employees throughout the land would have a shorter week in order to facilitate the celebration of the life and legacy of Ronald Reagan. Given that Reagan is almost surely more popular among the public at large than among the overwhelmingly Democratic career public servants whose work he never missed an opportunity to denigrate, it's a somewhat odd choice -- a reflection, perhaps, of a deep-seated conservative belief that it doesn't really matter whether or not the work of the government gets done. An old friend of mine is on the federal payroll nowadays as a lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He got orders recently to go to Iraq, where I expect the troops don't get much time off, even for something as important as Reagan Day. At any rate, I honestly don't know how much...

Hatchet Man

Born a few months after Reagan's inauguration, I have no personal recollection of the man, and this weekend's wall-to-wall coverage has been my first sustained exposure to his presidency. The tone of his rhetoric is striking. From his first inaugural address it seems that, initially at least, he took his role as Barry Goldwater's heir quite seriously. Government was not the solution; government was the problem. Reagan was going to get it off our backs. Well, it didn't happen. Some budget cuts took place, to be sure, but the basic elements of the New Deal and the Great Society -- Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Civil Rights Act, Title I education funding, etc. -- all remained intact. Bush has, in many ways, simply repeated the farce of Reaganism, driving the country deep into debt by taking on the revenue side of the welfare state while leaving expenditures intact. The mode of presentation, however, has shifted altogether. While Reagan talked the talk of small government,...

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