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

A Question of Ideology

Where each of the Democratic candidates might leave the country ideologically could ultimately be the most lasting determinant of the success of the next presidency.

When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had their recent squabble over Ronald Reagan—Obama noting that Reagan successfully altered the country's political trajectory, Clinton focusing attention on the disastrous effects of Reagan's policies—neither mentioned one of the most important pieces of Reagan's legacy: the impact he had on conservatism and liberalism as ideologies and movements. But the question of where each of these candidates might leave the country ideologically could ultimately be the most lasting determinant of the success of the next Democratic presidency. Unfortunately, neither Clinton nor Obama has addressed the question directly. But there are hints in both campaigns about where they might take their own followers, and where political activists on both sides will be eight years from now. This is in some ways a more important question than the "theory of change" argument that Clinton, Obama, and John Edwards had for many months. It isn't just about how you...

The Colossus

Our economic dominance may be threatened by China, India, and the European Union, but when it comes to the instruments of war, nobody else is even close. And it will stay that way no matter who, Democrat or Republican, gets elected.

In 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, which in addition to creating the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency, consolidated the Army and Navy into a new department, first called the National Military Establishment and finally renamed as the Department of Defense (DoD) in 1949. The Department of War, which had been established in 1789, ceased to exist. As actual threats to American territory grew dimmer and dimmer, we eventually stopped thinking about what the word "defense" actually means -- or what a distant relationship the war-making machinery we constructed really bore to any sane notion of what "defending" our country would require. And what an awesome machinery it is. The neoconservatives may not have succeeded in their dream of creating a new hegemonic order to rival the glory days of Rome, but we've become so used to the idea of America as the world's sole superpower that we seldom step back and take in the true scope of our...

The Republican Democrat

Pick your tired metaphor -- take-no-prisoners, brass knuckles, no-holds-barred, playing for keeps -- however you describe it, the Clinton campaign is not only going after Obama, they're doing so in awfully familiar ways.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton in Las Vegas after Hillary Clinton was declared winner of the Nevada Democratic caucus. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
For the past few years, progressives have been saying that one of the most important things Democrats needed to do was to get tough. Republicans had been kicking sand in their faces too long, and the time had come to hit back just as hard. In my own contribution to this chorus, I started a chapter in my last book by quoting Sean Connery's character from The Untouchables : "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way." But now the candidate who should be as familiar as anyone with "the Chicago way" -- given that he's actually from Chicago -- is on the receiving end of some less than polite politics, and more than a few progressives don't like what they're seeing. Barack Obama and his advisors did a lot of careful planning for this campaign, but there's one thing it doesn't seem they prepared for: Their main opponent, Hillary Clinton, is running like a Republican. And it appears to be working. Three...


So yesterday Bill Clinton was asked by a reporter about the lawsuit filed by Clinton supporters in Nevada trying to squash the at-large caucus sites at which casino workers would be able to vote in Saturday's caucus, and he got all up in the dude's grille : Clinton, just inches from his face, fired back. ''There were teachers who filed the lawsuit. You have asked the question in an accusatory way, so I will ask you back,'' the former president said. ''Do you really believe that all the Democrats understood that they had agreed to give people who worked in the casino a vote worth five times as much as people who voted in their own precinct?'' ''Did you know that? Their votes will be counted five times more powerfully, in terms of delegates to the state convention, compared to delegates to the national convention.'' Matthews noted the state party approved the set up. Clinton: ''What happened is nobody understood what happened ... they uncovered it. And now everybody's saying, ''Oh, they...

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...