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

Why 2016 Could Be a Turning Point on Guns

(Photo: Chelsea Purgahn/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP)
Chelsea Purgahn/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP Adriana Echols, center, at a July 9 vigil in Kalamazoo, Mich., held in response to recent violence across the nation. I 've been a gun control pessimist for about as long as I've been writing about the issue of guns. No matter what happens—no matter how many mass shootings there are, no matter how many abusive men kill their wives and girlfriends, no matter how many terrorists figure out how easy it is to kill huge numbers of people with our readily available firearms, no matter how many children accidentally shoot their siblings and friends—the marriage between the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party will prevent any meaningful national legislation from being passed. That even applies to measures like universal background checks, which somehow can't be enacted despite support from 90 percent of the public. You couldn't get 90 percent of the public to agree that ice cream is tasty, and yet we can't even get a vote on that in the...

Enough With the 'Optics' and the 'Narrative'

AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File
AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File In this June 7, 2016, file photo, former President Bill Clinton, left, stands on stage with his wife, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, after she spoke during a presidential primary election night rally in New York. W hen an important news story breaks, Americans turn to journalists for answers. Answers to questions like: Does this story "play into a narrative"? And what are the "optics" of the story? Because that's what really matters, right? Or so you might have thought if you had been reading or watching the news for the past few days. Journalists and pundits were all in a tizzy because when Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch crossed paths recently at an Arizona airport tarmac, Clinton jumped on Lynch's plane to chat with her for a half hour, about such shocking topics as Clinton's grandchildren and their mutual friend Janet Reno. The ensuing controversy looks like a prime example of the "Clinton Rules," under which the...

The Last Berniebro?

AP Photo/Mike Groll
Senator Bernie Sanders delivers his "Where We Go From Here" speech on Friday, June 24, 2016, in Albany, New York. “ I've got this thing,” said the politician on a secretly recorded phone call, “and it's f-ing golden. And I'm just not giving it up for f-ing nothing.” That politician, as you probably remember, was Rod Blagojevich, then the the governor of Illinois, and the thing in question was the appointment to temporarily fill the Senate seat of Barack Obama, who was headed to the White House. But Blagojevich's colorful sentiment could apply equally well to the way Bernie Sanders seems to think about his endorsement in this year's presidential race. It's golden, a precious jewel he has secured in a safe whose lock can only be sprung by one who has shown herself to be pure of heart, or at least one who has paid sufficient attention to Sanders and performed the proper rituals of supplication. Then and only then will the endorsement be presented, perhaps on a velvet pillow of deepest...

The Question Gun Advocates Should Have to Answer

AP Photo/John Locher
AP Photo/John Locher Handguns are on display at the Smith & Wesson booth at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show, Tuesday, January 19, 2016, in Las Vegas. A s we have yet another round of our repeated and possibly fruitless arguments about the role of guns in American society, there's one thing I desperately want to hear gun advocates say. It's not complicated, it would have the benefit of honesty, and it might enable us to move this debate to ground where we could actually make choices about what kind of society we want to have. What I want to hear gun advocates say is, "This is the price America has to pay for the right some of us cherish." The reason I want to hear this is that on no other basic debate over constitutional rights that I can think of does one side argue that there are no tradeoffs, that exercising a particular right, even in the most extreme way, doesn't actually involve any cost whatsoever. Only gun advocates say that. When somebody shoots 49 people in a...

What's Still True in the Wake of the Orlando Massacre

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack Orlando Police officers direct family members away from a fatal shooting at Pulse Orlando nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Sunday, June 12, 2016. W henever there's a terrorist attack in a Western country, no matter the size or scope, there's an impulse to conclude that things are, or will be, different now. The attack has demonstrated that what we thought was true no longer is, or it will fundamentally change what will happen from this point forward. That conclusion is usually wrong. While we're trying to understand what happened and why, we should remind ourselves of what's still true when it comes to terrorism, guns, and our safety: ISIS can still inspire people anywhere in the world, despite its setbacks on the battlefield . While the U.S.-led coalition is unquestionably making progress against ISIS—taking back territory the group had won, disrupting their financing, and so on—the group will be able to create propaganda and recruit sympathizers almost...

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