Monday, December 1, 2008


Well, I think you know what I'm referring to here, but if not, here's a piece I wrote on the last election:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I don't usually do this, but I will today: Call it recycling. Here's a piece I wrote almost a year ago on why Obama's biography mattered. It holds up pretty good now, don't you think? At some point, I could write up my campaigning experience but for now this:

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Here's a little ditty I did on Palin and the permanent state of culture war she promises:

Monday, September 1, 2008


I'll be talking about my recent book, Rebels All!, in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, New York City, and Boston, starting next Sunday. Anyone interested can see the schedule at:


In my other life, I backpack, flyfish, and ... You can find out by reading this article in one of my most favorite publications that comes out of the west: Mountain Gazette.

Monday, August 25, 2008


First, PW's review of Rebels All!:

This slim, scathing study of the right's trajectory argues that conservatives co-opted the utopian radicalism of the left to brilliantly position themselves as political underdogs, while efficiently consolidating power. With a little cheekiness and ample research, Mattson (When America Was Great) contends that today's conservatives, marked by their aggressive, confrontational style, their populism, pizzazz and brashness, are the true inheritors of the '60s' rebel spirit. The author skillfully links the invasion of Iraq with the new conservative utopianism (a new city on the hill in the Middle East) and identifies conservatism's ideological family tree, detecting the echoes of Bill Buckley in Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. He enriches his familiar analysis of the birth of the neocons by reviewing how conservatives learned to define themselves more sharply, using the radical style of their liberal counterparts, and demonstrates how populism was fused with neoconservatism to sire the politics of uncivil debate. Passionately, unapologetically partisan, the author's incendiary argument only cools when he champions liberalism as the middle of the political spectrum, perhaps proving that he—like the conservatives he so effectively skewers—is best on the offensive.

And a link to a review by a person whose biography of Saul Alinksy deserves reading -- that is, after you've read Rebels All!:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


This summer and into fall I'm finishing a book about Jimmy Carter's "Crisis of Confidence" Speech. And here is something I offer in the mean time:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008


Yes, the west and hiking and fishing, and...

While away, a few things.

An article in Academe magazine about AAUP activism:

The issue of Dissent with the last of my three review pieces about conservative ideas:

The debate with Sean Wilentz, which you can find here:

More later...

Friday, June 6, 2008


time to travel has hit. Mountains, rivers, trout, bears, pine trees, flyfishing, DeVoto land, mountain biking, Stegner land, Abbey land...

There are two things while I'm away to keep your eyes out for: First, I've written a criticism of Sean Wilentz's partisan history during the primary campaign. The editor at History News Network tells me it's to be posted next week (June 9 or so): Check out the History News Network's website (you can see my entry below as TYH to find that site). Secondly, Dissent will publish the final entry in my trilogy of review essays on conservatism and ideas. I'll be reviewing David Frum's book Comeback, plus two others. I'm not certain it will be posted on-line or not; people should buy the magazine.

In the mean time, have a great summer.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Marketing of Rebels All!:

The latest "ad" for Rebels All! Since you probably won't see it on HBO or Fox any time soon, here it is:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TYH??? at HNN???

Though it's hard for me to think of myself as young or top, here it is:


An extended essay on conservatism and race for you to "enjoy." I must also say that I was inspired here by my friend George Cotkin's recent writing about history and the moral imagination...

Monday, May 19, 2008


Thus entitled this long review essay I wrote about Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism and what it says about the state of conservative thought today. Some ask -- as it is asked here -- whether the book merits review. Yes, it does, I would say, for what it tells us about the conservative psyche. Enjoy:

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


If you've ever watched Hillary Clinton down shots of Crown Royal and thought: WTF? Here's my response:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008


For those who would like to hear the opening of my forthcoming book on conservative intellectuals, you can go to and click to hear the podcast:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I've written a longer piece about the legacy of "new journalism" in today's world -- drawing a straightish line from Norman Mailer to the blogosphere. It's not posted, but here's some information on it and the magazine Common Review.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Friday, March 7, 2008


I am in the process of publishing a short book about the history of the conservative mind in postwar America (should be out at the end of spring, beginning of summer). With the recent passing away of the conservative intellectual movement's most important figure, William F. Buckley, I offer these words:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

THE TIME IS NOW -- March 4, Ohio, Ground Zero

The lead line to this story seems a bit off from what my colleague and I wrote here. Our emphasis here is really on the grassroots nature of the Obama campaign, plus the vacuity of playing the populist card. In any case, enjoy:

Monday, March 3, 2008


You know you've made it in the world of on-line journalism when you've been blogged by another, especially if it's a friend who blogs you and who's a damn fine journalist. So it is here, and thus I share:

Back to campaigning...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


John Gilliom and I wrote the following editorial that appeared in The Chronicle Telegram and the Athens Messenger last week. Neither posted it on the internet, so here it is for those non-subscribers:


John Gilliom and Kevin Mattson

While many prominent Democratic Party leaders have opted to stay neutral in the current battle between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland is a fully committed partisan. Strickland has been on out-of-state campaign trips for Senator Clinton, headlined her campaign events in Ohio, appeared as a talk show surrogate, and coached Ohioans to vote early and vote Clinton. As state party chair Chris Redfern recently observed: “They are working very hard on her behalf.”

Like other Ohioans, we heaved a sigh of relief when Governor Strickland assumed office. Strickland has shown a commitment to good governance and honorable politics by calling for an end to the days of corrupt coin dealers, pay-to-play politics, and elections that only the winners could trust. And, as Democrats, we were delighted to see the party unified behind new and promising leadership.

But now Strickland’s partisanship is cause for concern. We see two obvious dangers. First, the potential leadership failure amid the likely difficulties of the coming March 4 primary election. Second, the already visible divisions and rancor within the state’s Democrats as many supporters of the Obama campaign watch their Governor step forward. Especially as the Clinton campaign appears increasingly bent on going negative.

Across the nation, this year’s Democratic primaries have drawn unprecedented levels of participation, with long voting lines and frequent ballot shortages. It seems assured that we’ll have a huge turnout in Ohio, especially since our primary could determine the national outcome. And no one should expect that March 4 will go smoothly; we expect huge numbers, the now-regular system failures, and almost inevitable frustration and acrimony.

With a deluge of voters – many of them new – we fear an election in which voters can’t vote due to new and unclear requirements on identification and voting procedures. We fear an election where insufficient staffing and equipment mean long delays and effective disenfranchisement. Things will probably go smoothly in high-income suburbs and thinly populated rural areas. But will the same thing happen in the urban and campus areas energized by the importance and potential of this year’s Democratic primary? We hope so, but our state’s precedents don’t make us optimistic.

Even if a primary election meltdown is avoided, the state needs a Governor who can serve as a leader and referee without appearing to be a committed player for one side. It may be too late—Strickland’s early public commitment has already raised concerns among some of the many Ohio Democrats who support Senator Obama. When the Governor turned his announcement about early voting into a campaign event for Team Clinton, there were inevitable memories of when state leaders tried to tip prior elections.

As Governor Strickland suggests that people go to the polls fast, he appears to want the ballots in the box before Ohioans have a full opportunity to meet the candidates. In so doing, he seeks to forestall the insurgency and energy that has mounted behind Obama’s campaign, driven as it is by small contributions as well as an appeal to Independents and a new generation who have come out to the polls in record numbers. The result is that the Governor’s simple message as a leader— vote early to help us have a successful election—is tainted and co-opted by his message as a Clinton advocate—vote early before Obama comes to Ohio.

Governor Strickland probably got into this mess because of the Clinton Campaign’s disastrous assumption that the race would be over on Super Tuesday. In that way of thinking, Ohio would be a mere rubber stamp during Senator Clinton’s post-game parade to the convention. And if that were the case, Governor Strickland’s partisanship would be barely noticed and quickly forgotten. But, as we all know, the situation has changed. Senator Obama is now winning in the polls, the popular vote, the fundraising, and the delegate counts. So now, surely to his dismay, the Governor finds himself stuck in one of the great political battles of the era, having pitted himself against large and crucial elements of his own political party.

It may be too late for Governor Strickland to become a “born-again” neutral player in the March 4 primary, but the best investment for the State of Ohio and all of Ohio’s Democrats would be for him to stand down from the Clinton Campaign and turn all of his attention working with his administration to run a clean and well-managed election day. The ingredients are in place for the great promise of this Governor to be sullied by what increasingly appears to be a bad and unwise bet in the great game of politics.


John Gilliom is Chair of the Political Science Department and Kevin Mattson is the Connor Study Professor of Contemporary History at Ohio University.

Friday, January 25, 2008


If you've been at all disturbed by Bill Clinton's recent attacks against Senator Obama, read below.