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

Boyer Plate

This week's New Yorker contains a profile of Wesley Clark with a striking thesis -- that the general's "military career, the justification for his candidacy, may also be a liability." Author Peter Boyer argues initially that Clark's plans for a military campaign against Slobodan Milosevic during the 1999 Kosovo conflict were too aggressive; then Boyer argues that the target list of sites to be bombed by NATO jets was not ambitious enough; then he faults Clark for pushing too hard to draw up plans for a ground war against Milosevic. Clark critics, such as former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen and former generals Tommy Franks and Hugh Shelton, get plenty of space in the piece. Meanwhile, those members of Clinton's national-security team who supported Clark's conduct of the war, such as Madeline Albright and Richard Holbrooke, are not heard from at all. Perhaps most incredibly, after heaping derision on Clark's theory that the mere threat of ground forces would be enough to bring Milosevic...

Past Imperfect

Yesterday, National Review Editor Rich Lowry struck back against my earlier critique of his efforts to blame the Clinton administration for the September 11 terrorist attacks. Lowry, you see, has a new book out called Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years , and his magazine's Web site has been running Legacy -themed articles ever since the book's release. In one such article he took a break from the thankless task of criticizing Bill Clinton's economic record to allege that the Democrats had been soft on terrorism when they were in the White House. It's a pretty serious charge, so I took a look at the National Review 's Clinton-era terrorism coverage and found it a bit wanting: one editorial supporting the administration's response to the bombing of our embassies in Africa and a few desultory mentions of the USS Cole . If Clinton was so terrible, I asked, why couldn't Lowry and his employees see it at the time? In response, Lowry accused The American Prospect of having "all...

Post Haste

My recent move from New York City to Washington has brought with it a lot of changes, among them a new morning newspaper. Yesterday, that switch paid off in the form of a magnificent front-page article by Mike Allen and Dana Priest in The Washington Post . The piece confirmed reports that two Bush administration officials had blown the cover of CIA operative Valerie Plame and quoted a senior administration official as saying it was done "purely and simply for revenge." Plame is the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who was sent by the government to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein had attempted to procure uranium from Niger. Wilson revealed in an early July op-ed that he'd told the government the claims were false well before they showed up in President Bush's State of the Union address. While the Post was breaking big news of apparently illegal conduct by senior White House officials, The New York Times was left scrambling, eventually offering up a brief, un-bylined...

Line Dance

In last season's final episode of The West Wing , President Josiah Bartlet invokes the 25th Amendment and relinquishes power so that the country can be led through crisis -- terrorists have kidnapped Bartlet's daughter -- by someone with an objective grasp of the situation. As it happens, however, the office of vice president is temporarily vacant, the previous occupant having resigned because of a sex scandal two episodes prior. Under such circumstances, the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 dictates that the speaker of the House becomes the acting president, regardless of whether the two leaders are from the same party (on The West Wing they're not). The show's fifth season premieres tonight, and with the speaker of the House still occupying the Oval Office, the question of presidential succession will no doubt continue to loom large. This kind of constitutional oddity makes for good drama -- The West Wing wasn't the only show to end its season last spring by invoking the 25th...

General Dynamics

The most obvious precedent for retired Gen. Wesley Clark's presidential campaign is that of Dwight Eisenhower, the only general in the 20th century to seek the highest office in the land. There was a period of time in the 19th century, however, when generals were a common sight on the campaign trail. Between 1840 and 1888, eight of 13 presidential elections were won by former generals, and several losing nominees had similar military backgrounds. In many ways, the history of 19th-century generals-turned-politicians is not one that Clark supporters should find particularly reassuring. For one thing, most of the politically successful generals of the era spent some time seasoning themselves in lower office before seeking the top job. Benjamin Harrison capped his Civil War record with time as a U.S. senator from Indiana. Both James Garfield and Rutherford Hayes actually resigned their military commissions in the middle of the Civil War in order to run for Congress, and Hayes served three...

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