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 BATTLE IS JOINED. For years, I've been arguing that what the left needs to do is wage all-out war not just on particular problems or Republican screw-ups, but on conservatism itself. As I wrote on this very web site way back in 2005: Unlike liberals, conservatives don't simply criticize specific candidates or pieces of legislation, they attack their opponents' entire ideological worldview. Tune into Rush Limbaugh or any of his imitators, and what you'll hear is little more than an extended discourse on the evils of liberalism, in which specific events are merely evidence that the real problem is liberal ideology. Liberals may write best-selling books about why George W. Bush is a terrible president, but conservatives write best-selling books about why liberalism is a pox on our nation (talk radio hate-monger Michael Savage , for instance, titled his latest book Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder ). Indeed, large portions of the conservative movement can be understood as an effort to...


"VERY PROUD OF THE PERSON HE BELIEVES HIMSELF TO BE." On the Daily Show on Wednesday, Jon Stewart interviewed Robert Draper , the author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush . In the course of the interview, Stewart gave what may be the most concise, insightful description of George W. Bush , the man, that has been offered in the last eight years: "After reading this book, I get the sense of a man who is very proud of the person he believes himself to be, but he is in fact the opposite of that person." Hard to say it better than that. As I was watching the president last night, I couldn't help but ask myself: what, as a writer, am I going to do when he's gone? Between a book, a couple of hundred columns, and innumerable blog posts, I'd estimate that I've written somewhere between a quarter million and a half million words about him over the last five years. When his presidency started, I was a graduate student intending to spend my days as an academic, penning articles on...

Why Health Care Is a Losing Issue for the GOP

The Republicans candidates' love affair with free-market fundamentalism has prevented them from addressing the health care crisis. The Democrats should take full advantage of that.

On March 10, 1994, less than four months after Bill Clinton's health care plan was introduced in Congress and half a year before it would die its bitter death without ever coming to a vote, the Wall Street Journal published the results of a poll and focus groups they had conducted on the Clinton plan. The article explained that although only 37 percent of respondents said they supported the Clinton plan, when various health care options were read to them without identifying their sponsors, 76 percent said the Clinton plan had either "a great deal of appeal" or "some appeal," making it more popular than any of the competing proposals. Voters had no idea what was in the Clinton plan, but they knew they didn't like it. Among many of the focus group participants, "the most memorable source [of information on the Clinton plan] has been health-insurance-industry commercials strongly criticizing elements of the Clinton plan, including the famous 'Harry and Louise' ads that depict an '...

Trapped in the Political Closet

Larry Craig may have been guilty of hiding his sexuality, but the demands of public life lead more than a few politicians to carve out a hidden self.

What must have gone through Larry Craig’s mind that day in June, when he looked down to the bottom of the wall separating his stall from the next, expecting to see a reciprocation of his signaled desire, and instead saw that policeman’s badge? “I can get out of this,” he may have said to himself. Or perhaps, “So this is where it ends, finally.” Of course, we can’t say for sure that Craig was in that restroom hoping to get some action, or if he was the victim of one of the most extraordinary coincidences in the history of western civilization. But whatever lies in the recesses of Craig’s heart, he probably didn’t expect the ferocious speed with which his Republican colleagues would toss him off, shaking frantically to rid themselves of the scent of what many of them no doubt regard as perversion. In a matter of days, a career of decades came to an abrupt end as millions learned of Craig’s intimate secrets both shocking and banal, and a tidal wave of snickers, contempt, and ridicule...

A Guide to Media Manipulation, Republican Style

In recent years the GOP has turned the technique of making hay from their opponents' words into a reliable formula for success -- with a few distortions and a little help from the media, of course.

After he lost the 2004 presidential election, it looked as though, like many who had been in his position before -- Adlai Stevenson, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey -- John Kerry might take one more shot at reaching the Oval Office four years after falling short. But then on Monday, October 30, 2006, the local NBC affiliate in Los Angeles aired a story on Kerry's appearance that day at a campaign event. The story included a clip of Kerry delivering what quickly came to be known as the "botched joke," in which what was intended as a dig at President Bush's history as an inattentive student and all-around nincompoop came out sounding like an allegation that American troops are uneducated. One hour later, a popular conservative talk show host in Los Angeles played the clip on his show, complete with the absurd yet predictable allegation that Kerry was intentionally maligning America's brave troops. At 2:34 a.m. Eastern time the next morning, a link to the clip appeared on the Drudge...