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

The Huckabee/Obama Challenge

Both candidates highlight generational divides in their respective parties and bring into question theories of political engagement that have guided the evangelical and civil-rights movements for decades.

There is little question that of the two electoral coalitions that dominate our politics, it is the Republican one whose internal disputes and fissures are the deepest and most threatening to its future prospects. And the forces represented by the Republican presidential candidates are currently pushing at each other, the fingers of blame ready to point once November rolls around. Nonetheless, there is an interesting parallel currently at play in how Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are being received by the key activists and leaders whom one might have expected to embrace them with the greatest vigor. Obama and Huckabee are viewed by the country's black leadership and evangelical leadership, respectively, with a degree of ambivalence and even suspicion that few would have predicted. There are plenty of important differences between the two worth discussing. But both candidacies highlight generational divides and bring into question theories of political engagement that have guided the...

SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS...

I can't imagine I'm the only one who finds the current back-and-forth between the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns on race utterly fascinating, from the standpoint of political strategy. Here you have one of the most explosive and emotion-laden issues in American life, two campaigns that at the moment seem to have almost identical chances of prevailing, a spate of upcoming primary contests, each taking place in a state in which this issue could play out in a unique fashion, and candidates whose histories and identities are tied up with race in complex ways. Add to that the fact that each move by one campaign is met by a counter-move by the other campaign that can upend whatever strategy the first campaign thought it would use. I picture each campaign's strategists standing before a gigantic chalkboard with an enormously complicated path analysis matrix containing hundreds of boxes, arrows, and coefficients, scratching their heads and wondering what to do next. I'm going to...

POLL? WHAT'S A POLL?

I have this crazy dream: one day, a politician will be asked about some poll result or other, and he or she will respond by saying something other than, "I don't pay any attention to polls." I realize that we tolerate lots of white lies from our politicians: "It's great to be here!" "Whatever problem is of most concern to you, that's my highest priority." "I don't worry about the politics, I'm just going to do what's right." But would it be so terrible for one of them to say, "Sure, I pay attention to polls. I don't let them influence what I think about issues, but I always want to know what the public thinks, and polls are one of a number of ways to learn. It's part of the job." But no, instead we get this absurd game, where they all pretend that, sure, their campaigns are spending millions of dollars polling, but they don't have any idea what the results are; they just couldn't care less. What a crock. This comes up because Hillary Clinton delivered the old standby on Sunday's Meet...

YOUR JONAH GOLDBERG HOWLER OF THE DAY.

I know, it's too easy to go after Jonah Goldberg for all the ridiculousness that is his book Liberal Fascism But this, from his interview with Salon , is just too funny: Alex Koppelman : You write, "[Liberalism] is definitely totalitarian -- or 'holistic,' if you prefer -- in that liberalism today sees no realm of human life that is beyond political significance, from what you eat to what you smoke to what you say. Sex is political. Food is political. Sports, entertainment, your inner motives and outer appearance, all have political salience for liberal fascists." Couldn't that just as easily be said of the American right? You've got, certainly, conservatives judging entertainment from political perspectives; I remember discussion on [National Review group blog] the Corner of the 2006 Steelers-Seahawks Super Bowl through a political lens. There were "Freedom Fries" and boycotts of French food and wine. And, I mean, your wife worked for [former Attorney General] John Ashcroft, so you...

Why Conservatives' Crush on Obama Is Doomed

The heart of conservative affection for Barack Obama is that he "never brings race into it," by which they mean that he doesn't make them feel guilty about race. Don't count on the affection continuing forever.

Many different kinds of people listen to Barack Obama and get a little weak in the knees. Young people are enraptured by him, political independents are attracted to him, African-Americans are proud of him, progressives are inspired by him. But the praise is also coming from one corner one would least expect: conservatives. David Brooks, house conservative of the New York Times op-ed page, practically wept with joy at Obama's Iowa victory. "You'd have to have a heart of stone not to feel moved by this," he wrote the next day. "Whatever their political affiliations, Americans are going to feel good about the Obama victory … Obama is changing the tone of American liberalism, and maybe American politics, too." Rick Brookheiser of the National Review -- yes, that National Review -- wrote on the night of the caucus, "One of our great national sins is being obliterated, as the years pass, by the virtues of our national system. I don't agree with Obama and I don't particularly like him, but...

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