Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a contributing editor for the Prospect and the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

This Time, It's Personal

Every candidate knows what you're supposed to say when you come out to speak to your supporters after a loss. This was a great effort! I'm so proud of everyone who worked so hard! Whatever happens, our fight for the things we believe in goes on! As trite as it may be, having been repeated so many times, it actually does make the staffers, volunteers, and supporters feel a little bit better. But Newt Gingrich is no ordinary candidate. So after coming in a distant fourth place in the Iowa caucuses, he emerged swinging . He said he was "drowned in negativity," and that the negative ads targeted at him were "shameful." He attacked Ron Paul, saying his views are "stunningly dangerous for the survival of the United States." He called Mitt Romney a "Massachusetts moderate" (horrors!) who "would be pretty good at managing the decay" but won't change Washington. He also said that while he won't run "nasty ads," "I do reserve the right to tell the truth. And if the truth seems negative, that...

The Most Informative Campaign?

Now that the actual primary campaign (with voting, I mean) has begun, it might be worth taking note of a real benefit this crazy campaign has had for the electorate. With no fewer than six national front-runners at various times (Romney, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Gingrich), we've had a chance to get a close look at more candidates than ever. Ordinarily, the press will find only one or two candidates worthy of a good sifting through their past. But this time, nearly all the candidates have been subject to close examination, and the harsh national spotlight reveals all flaws. If you're wondering what skeletons John Huntsman has in his closet, it's because he's the only candidate who hasn't been ahead (or nearly so). Everybody else has had their moment, so we've learned in detail about Perry's Texas record (not so impressive), Gingrich's entrepreneurial career (quite impressive in its way), Bachmann's religious beliefs (a little scary), Ron Paul's newsletters (both nutty and scary),...

A Trip Down Memory Lane

As we watch Republicans give a collective "Meh" to their contenders for president, I thought it might be a good time for a trip down memory lane. Four years ago, Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus and delivered what may be his best speech ever. Take a quick gander and remember those heady days: Does it still give you shivers? I always felt that the most compelling thing about Obama's campaign rhetoric was how he brought the listener into his own epic story. Let me revisit what I wrote at the time: But if you were born in the '60s, '70s, or '80s, history probably isn't something you participated in, it's something you watched on television. You watched America's all-volunteer military invade a succession of small countries (Grenada, Panama, Kuwait, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq...) but never worried about you or your brother going to fight, unless it were by choice. The most significant event of the second half of the 20th century -- the breakup of the Soviet Empire -- happened on television...

Mommy, What's a Caucus?

If you want to challenge your pedagogical skills, try explaining the Iowa caucuses to a child. "You see, Billy, in America, we get to choose our presidents, and every citizen gets to participate. So to start the process off, everyone who wants to be president spends months in the state of Iowa, personally meeting as many Iowans as they can. And then one Tuesday in January, those Iowans go to their local schools and community centers, hang around for an hour listening to boring speeches, then cast their votes. Then the media tell us that the candidates who didn't come in first or second are unworthy of any more attention from people in the other 49 states, so those candidates drop out of the race. And then somebody gets to be the party's nominee, and that person will run against President Barack Obama in the fall. Does that make sense, Billy?" Billy will quite reasonably reply: No. It makes no sense at all. But in case he has some follow-up questions, let's try to have some answers...

What? We Won?

If there's one thing liberals know about their representatives in Washington, it's that those Democrats are a bunch of wimps. All Republicans have to do is draw back their fists, and Democrats will flinch. "What if they criticize us???" they whine, as they cave in on progressive principles again and again. That's the story liberals tell, and much of the time it's true. But nothing is true in politics one hundred percent of the time, and so yesterday we saw Republicans cave in on the payroll tax cut extension. There's a lot of technical parliamentary hoop-jumping involved, but basically the House is going to pass the two-month extension, and in exchange there will be a conference committee that attempts to work out a one-year extension. So we get to go through this all over again in two months. Which is probably just fine with Democrats. After all, they finally found an issue on which they could make Republicans knuckle under. Republicans don't seem to like this tax cut, and it's hard...

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