Goodbye To Matt

Congratulations are in order whenever someone accepts a new position, of course, but I hope Matt won't mind if I add that I was very sorry to hear that he'd decided to leave the Atlantic to take a job at the Center for American Progress. Partially, this reflects pure selfishness on my part: I like Matt a lot, I've enjoyed having him as a colleague (and a sparring partner), and I'll miss his company in the office as well as the presence of his commentary on the Atlantic's site. But it also reflects slight disappointment at where he's decided to go. Maybe this is foolish: I respect his desire to be in the arena, TR-style, rather than on the sidelines, and there's no doubt a touch of concern-trolling involved whenever I fret about how the new progressive ecosystem seems hell-bent on imitating a lot of the things I find unpleasant about my own side of the partisan divide these days - the team-player mentality, the tendency toward cocooning, the obsession with policing orthodoxy, etc. Certainly, I have no doubt that Matt will remain Matt - independent-minded, acerbic, not suffering fools gladly - even under the umbrella of an explicitly partisan organization. But I also think that American politics benefits from having smart writers of both political persuasions who have one foot in movement politics and one foot outside it, and given that Matt is one of the smartest liberal writers in my generational cohort, I'm sad to see him giving up on this balancing act. He'll do well, and better than well, wherever he goes - but part of me suspects that over the long run he could do more, both for himself and for progressivism, if he were ever-so-slightly outside the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy rather working for it directly.

Obviously, I blame David Appell for this.