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

Donald Trump's Surreal Alternate Reality

(Photo: AP/Julio Cortez)
(Photo: AP/Julio Cortez) Donald Trump speaks during a charity event hosted by the Republican Hindu Coalition on October 15 in Edison, New Jersey. I f you've been around politics and campaigns for even a little while, you probably have a pretty clear sense of what happens behind closed doors with Hillary Clinton and her close advisers. They plan which battleground states she'll visit in the few remaining weeks, go over polling data to see where she's strong and where she's weak, consider how to react to each day's developments in the news, practice for the final debate on Wednesday, talk about the key messages she should emphasize—those kind of things. There's not much mystery there. But when you consider Donald Trump's campaign, one question dominates all others: What the hell are they thinking? If we're lucky, when the 2016 presidential campaign is over someone within the Trump campaign will pen a tell-all memoir to show the rest of us what this most bizarre presidential candidacy...

If the 2016 Campaign Were a Satirical Novel

(Photo: AP/Robert F. Bukaty)
(Photo: AP/Robert F. Bukaty) Donald Trump speaks in Sandown, New Hampshire, on October 6, 2016. " Call me Donald" might be the opening line if the 2016 presidential campaign were a novel. Or perhaps, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times—no, actually it was just the worst of times." Either way, that's what this campaign has most come to resemble: a sprawling, outrageous, seriocomic novel aiming its satirical blade a the heart of contemporary American politics and society, focused on a protagonist occupying a space somewhere between antihero and outright villain. Think about what the plot of this campaign has involved. The protagonist made a dramatic entrance, shocking and enthralling observers with his immediate and unadorned demagoguery, and his bizarre brand of charisma that captivated the media. Then he vanquished a passel of primary opponents, who tried and failed to fight him in the gutter where he dwelt so comfortably. All the while his supporters growled like an...

You Pay Taxes So Donald Trump Doesn't Have To

AP Photo/John Locher
AP Photo/John Locher Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally, Saturday, October 1, 2016, in Manheim, Pennsylvania. C apping off an extraordinary week of blunders and bumbles, Donald Trump learned Saturday night that The New York Times had obtained pages of his 1995 tax return showing that not only did he report a $916 million loss, but according to tax experts, that loss could have enabled him to avoid paying federal taxes for as many as 18 years, even as he made healthy profits after his failures in Atlantic City. For a man who just days earlier had responded "That makes me smart"—to the horror of his campaign advisers, no doubt—when Hillary Clinton accused him of refusing to show his tax returns because he may have paid no federal taxes at all, this was not exactly welcome news. But Trump and his allies were ready to spin. Early Sunday morning, he tweeted , "I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president and am the only one who...

What You Should Really Watch for in Tonight's Debate

AP Photo/Julio Cortez
AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File A TV cameraman sets up during rehearsals for the presidential debate between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, Sunday, September 25, 2016. A s we arrive at what some are predicting could be the most-watched presidential debate in history, the speculation is reaching a state of frenzy. Will Trump be calm or crazy? Will Clinton show her personal side? Is Lester Holt going to say anything when Trump claims that Clinton sank the Maine , was secretly Tokyo Rose, once made out with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a party, and wrote all the songs for " Cop Rock "? After the debate is over, the questions will, if anything, get even dumber, all about who "won," who got off the best one-liners, and whether "expectations" were met. Nothing is less important after a debate occurs than expectations—once it has already happened, we no longer need to care about what the...

The Presidential Campaign Has Descended Into Madness

AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pumps his fist after speaking during a campaign rally, Saturday, September 17, 2016, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. M y friends, we have fallen down the rabbit hole. This presidential campaign has completely departed from ordinary reality, into a place where there's no such thing as truth and accountability is a joke—at least for some. I wish I could tell you with confidence that it all will work out in the end, that the electorate will be wise and thoughtful, that we'll only shake our heads and chuckle when we think back on 2016. But I'm no longer so sure. This is the sequence of events we witnessed over the last few days. On Friday, Donald Trump held an event at which he finally gave up the malignant crusade he has been on for the last five years to convince people that President Obama was not born in the United States. In doing so, however, he told a breathtakingly brazen lie: "Hillary Clinton and her campaign of...