Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Someday, Republicans May Reject Trump's White Nationalism — But Not Yet

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
After George W. Bush left office with the economy in crisis and the Iraq War widely acknowledged as the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history, Republicans began a desperate rehabilitation campaign—not to restore his image, but to salvage their own. Bush? We never liked him anyway, they said, the evidence of eight years of worshipful support notwithstanding. Searching for some grounds on which to make this absurd claim, they said he wasn't a real conservative because he didn't cut spending. So their hands were clean. When Donald Trump leaves office, either in 2021 or 2025, Republicans will go through the same charade. The "Never Trump" crew, they'll insist at that point, didn't consist of a few hardy intellectuals and writers, but instead included nearly every Republican. The occasional note of discomfort they express today ("I wish he wouldn't tweet so much") will be retroactively transformed into a full-throated rebellion, one that was no less courageous for the...

The Liberal Backlash Is Coming

(AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Among the many privileges certain Americans enjoy—along with the presumption of competence and driving without being pulled over unless they actually commit a moving violation—is the right to cry out in rage at the sight of political and societal change, to demand that things revert back to how they were before, and to find this demand greeted with understanding and consideration. Indeed, the angry demand for a reversion to the prior order—what we can call the politics of backlash—has been the basis of Republican electoral success for decades. They have held up one social or political development after another and told have voters, "These changes are the symptom and cause of what you have lost." Your standard of living, your hopes for the future, the vibrancy of your community, your security, your place in a society ordered as you would like it, or just the feeling that people like you are on top, where they should be—whenever any of it is threatened, the...

Should Trump Staffers Be Shamed and Protested Wherever They Go?

It's getting hard out there for a Trump staffer. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who made the interesting choice to go out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant at the moment her department was separating thousands of children from their parents at our border with Mexico, found herself heckled by protesters shouting "Shame!" Politico reports that "Staffers leaving the White House grounds semi-regularly catch passersby flipping them the bird," and the young ones looking for love on dating apps find that when prospective partners find out who they work for they're regularly rejected, with some colorful insults thrown in. And last Friday, Sarah Huckabee Sanders posted this on Twitter: Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so — Sarah...

Has Trump Overestimated the Cruelty of His Own Supporters?

When it comes to public policy, Donald Trump doesn't believe in very much. He has little in the way of strong feelings about abortion or guns or health care, for instance, though he understands that staying consistent with Republican orthodoxy is politically important for him. But there are a few issues he cares deeply about, and has since before he became a politician. Trade is one of them; he thinks that whenever an American buys something made in another country, the country has been made to look the fool and the world is laughing at us . The other major issue on which Trump has firm beliefs is immigration, and now we are truly seeing those beliefs put into practice, and the result is one of the more intense controversies of this presidency. After a lengthy internal argument in which the utility and morality of separating children from their parents when they try to cross the border was debated by Trump administration officials, the hardliners won out. Now, instead of putting...

Trump Unchained

(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
"You are a king," Donald Trump's father reportedly told him . And the thing about being a king is that nobody gets to tell you what to do. It's becoming clear that few parts of the president's character are as important as how harshly he reacts to any attempt to constrain him. He grew up in wealth, and without any sense of obligation to anyone. As the head of a private company, he had no board of directors overseeing him and no one to answer to. And today, the very idea that someone might try to push him in one direction or another—let alone force him to do something like testify before a grand jury or reveal his tax returns—seems to fill him with rage. Seldom has a leader mattered more as an individual, divorced from institutional imperatives, party commitments, international alliances, traditional norms, and historical forces. Indeed, that was part of the appeal Trump made to voters, and the thing that made many in his party suspicious of him. He'd be unpredictable,...