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

Students Have Transformed the American Gun Debate

(Sipa via AP Images)
Every social movement in history has been greeted by "concern trolls," long before that term was invented. You're doing it wrong, activists are inevitably told. You're asking for too much too quickly, or your message should be more specific. You don't understand the issue deeply enough, or you're getting lost in the weeds. You've got the wrong spokespeople. You're being rude. Your tactics are alienating those you're trying to persuade. This is never going to work. It's possible for the criticism to be perfectly valid; some movements are indeed more skilled than others, and you can certainly do it wrong. But every movement hears these criticisms, including the new gun reform movement that is doing such extraordinary things right now, most visibly the spectacular March For Our Lives that took place on Saturday, led by a group of teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, joined by young people from all over the country. What have they accomplished? In...

Mueller's Firing Is Getting Closer Every Day

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
Is President Trump going to fire Robert Mueller? This question is gripping Washington more with each passing day, and the truth is that none of us know the answer, if only because the future is always uncertain. But here's what we do know: We know that Trump madly, fervently, desperately wants to. We know that he's being held back not by his own sense of propriety or restraint (ha!) but by aides who understand that, as Senator Lindsey Graham said , "if he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency." But Trump probably doesn't understand that. He continues to insist that the entire investigation is illegitimate, making clear that he believes he would be perfectly justified in ordering Mueller's firing: The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of...

What Elizabeth Warren Is In For

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From the moment he began running for president in 2015, it was apparent that Donald Trump was a kind of political idiot savant, even if the idiot part blinded so many people to the savant part. He seemed to know nothing about anything, yet he had an intuitive sense of what would get certain voters angry and excited. And he was nearly alone in believing there was almost nothing he couldn't get away with; his off-the-cuff assertion that "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's like incredible" will stand as one of the most profound insights of the entire Trump era. Trump could also take the preferred tactic of the fourth-grade bully—mocking nicknames for those he seeks to dominate—and turn it into a potent political weapon. Liddle Marco, Lyin' Ted, Crooked Hillary—in every case, Trump found a point of weakness, then jabbed at it with the bluntest instrument he could find, which turned out to be an...

Is the GOP Careening Toward Disaster in November?

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
Sometimes I try to imagine what we'd be going through right now if a few thousand votes had gone a different way in 2016 and Hillary Clinton had won the electoral college in addition to the popular vote. There would have no doubt been a conservative uprising along the lines of the Tea Party, presented as a principled opposition to big government but really little more than a collective loathing for President Clinton. Not that she would have been turning the nation into a socialist hellhole, since with Republicans still in control of Congress there would only have been so much she could accomplish. We probably would have had at least one or two government shutdowns by now, and Republicans would be demanding deep cuts to federal spending, lest we subject our grandchildren to the horrors of a budget deficit. And we'd all be debating just how big the anti-Clinton wave would be in 2018, and whether it would give Republicans the 60-vote margin they'd need in the Senate to overcome any...

Is the NRA Finally on the Defensive?

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Speaking to the activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week, President Trump interrupted his freeform stream of consciousness performance to take a quick poll of the audience. "If you only had a choice of one, what would you rather have?" he asked them. "The Second Amendment or the tax cuts?" When he had them applaud for each, the cheers for gun rights were far louder. That wouldn't be the case if you could read the minds of the Republican Party's representatives in Congress, for whom tax cuts are always the highest priority. Yet over the last few years, the GOP has become not just a pro-gun party but a party utterly in thrall to the National Rifle Association and its increasingly extreme views. Some Republicans in Congress fight every suggestion of regulating guns because it's what they really believe, while others do it because they fear the NRA's wrath. But now some glimmers of change may actually be appearing. The NRA is on the defensive, and people are...