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

Political Theatre of the Absurd

Groups like Code Pink have turned political protest on the left into a joke. Effective political movements have to both engage their participants and ensure that their actions are meaningful.

A few months ago, a day before one of the occasional marches the Capital sees demanding an end to the Iraq War, I began the descent into the Metro stop near my office, looked up, and saw a number of representatives of Code Pink standing at the railing overlooking the escalator. Or rather, I heard them first. They were screaming at the parade of commuters, at the top of their lungs and in a tone somewhere between simple frustration and righteous anger, "End the war!!!" Well, I thought, that ought to take care of things. Good work, hippies! I kid -- heck, some of my best friends are hippies. But that bit of fruitless shouting at Washington's Dupont Circle Metro station came to mind because last month, the Berkeley City Council touched off a controversy by issuing a declaration against a Marine recruiting station in town, calling the recruiters "uninvited and unwelcome intruders." While the council couldn't just evict the Marines, it did the next best thing: It gave Code Pink, possibly...

More Bellicose Than Bush?

Given how often we are told that McCain has "credibility" and "experience" on matters of foreign policy and national security, it's worth asking what effect all that alleged experience has had on him.

In May of 2006, as Iraq spiraled down into an orgy of sectarian bloodletting, John McCain had a solution. "One of the things I would do if I were president," McCain told a group of wealthy contributors, "would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, 'Stop the bullshit.'" If only someone had thought of that before. This is the man Brian Williams of NBC News recently referred to as having "vast foreign-policy expertise and credibility on national security." McCain's insightful plan to end the Iraqi sectarian conflict was just one comment, of course. But given how often we are told these days that McCain has "credibility" and "experience" on matters of foreign policy and national security, it's worth asking what effect all that alleged experience has had on him. Because when McCain actually opens his mouth to discuss these issues, his ideas and beliefs often sound so simple-minded they make George W. Bush look like Otto von Bismarck. And the one consistent theme in McCain's...

The Contours of the Campaign to Come

Obama may not have knocked Hillary Clinton out of the race yet, but his success is giving us a taste of what Republicans have in store for the general election.

The fight for the Democratic nomination isn't over yet, but the direction the other side thinks things are going can be gleaned from the salvos being lobbed at the Democrats. Go to the Web site of the Republican National Committee, or any of the more virulent conservative blogs, and you'll see that most of the attacks are being aimed at Barack Obama. The contours of the coming campaign are taking shape, and as usual, it's not pretty. Listen to the McCain campaign, and you'll hear that it intends only to engage in a debate about "issues," one that will elevate the discourse and offer voters an opportunity to make a reasoned, considered decision about the future of their country. If so, it would certainly be a reversal of every campaign in recent times. The pattern we've gotten used to is that the Democrat argues that he has a superior set of 10-point plans, and urges the electorate to peruse them, while the Republican points to the Democrat and says, "That guy is a liberal elitist who...

Will the Next President Lift the Ban on Gays in the Military?

What will our military look like in the years to come? Depends on if the next president addresses the increasingly unpopular "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

This presidential campaign has seen plenty of platitudes on matters of national security but precious little real discussion about what America's armed forces will look like in the years to come. There are extraordinary challenges ahead, not the least of which is rebuilding a military utterly spent by the war in Iraq. As for the people who would be commander in chief, we know that all the remaining candidates want to defeat terrorism and keep America strong. In other words, we don't know much at all. There are many facets to the issue of our military's future, but for the moment I want to discuss just one: whether the ban on gays serving in the military will finally be repealed. Of the 26 countries in the NATO alliance, only Portugal, Greece, Turkey—and the United States—ban gays from serving in the military. Other countries have reported no problems integrating gay service members into their military. This is true even in Israel, where they take military matters very,...


In his continuing campaign to become a walking punchline, Ralph Nader is running for president. Again. Four years ago, Harold, Matt, Garance and I ruminated on the prospect of what then the second Nader run. We all agreed it was a really bad idea. The question I'd like to hear Nader answer now is, "Why president?" I agree with much of the substantive critique Nader offers of the state of American government. But I have yet to hear him offer much of an explanation of why he thinks him embarking on another presidential campaign will do anything to address the problems he identifies. At the end of Nader for President 3.0, will corporate America's grip on the legislative process be loosened? Will we be closer to getting a more environmentally sound energy policy? Will the problem of widening inequality start to be addressed? Is there any imaginable way in which this campaign will have any impact on the problems he professes to care about? Ralph Nader accomplished great things in his life...