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

Time to Feel Bad for Rick Perry

One time about ten years ago, I was on a radio program talking about some political matter or other, and I started a point by saying, "There are three reasons why." I then said, "First..." and explained the first. Then I said, "Second..." and explained the second. Then I couldn't remember the third. Fortunately, for this interview I was in the studio, and I looked helplessly at the host and gave her a little shake of the head and an open mouth, the universal signal for, "I just had a brain fart, please help!" Being a smooth professional, she stepped in quickly and moved the conversation along. I learned my lesson: I've done a few hundred radio interviews in the time since and never once have I said a specific number of points I'm about to give. Which is why I have a little bit of sympathy for Rick Perry today: You have to wonder just what went through Perry's head after that "Oops" escaped his mouth. Maybe nothing in particular. Or maybe, "Given the fact that I've been having trouble...

There Is No "Real" Mitt Romney

Peter Beinart has some encouraging words for conservatives worried about a Romney presidency, but this has relevance for liberals too: ...within weeks of Romney's election, his chief of staff would be culling through lists of potential deputy secretaries of the interior. The list would be generated by places like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and Chamber of Commerce. It would consist largely of people who served in the Bush administration, with perhaps a few entrants who stood out at the state level—which is to say, were particularly zealous in serving corporate interests—thrown in. This list would have been approved, if not actually assembled, by the very industries that the Interior Department regulates. It would be similar to the list that would have been assembled for President Perry or President Cain, and it would include no pro-regulation Republicans, because the people who produce such lists are in the anti-regulation business...

Mitt Romney's Public Option

If you want to be a serious presidential candidate, you have to offer just enough detail in your policy proposals that it appears that you're genuinely grappling with the issues, but not so much that you give people too much material with which to find fault. To that end, Mitt Romney has offered a plan that includes the following about Medicare: Medicare should not change for anyone in the program or soon to be in it. Nor should tax hikes be part of the solution. Reforms must honor commitments to our current seniors while giving the next generation an improved program that offers the freedom to choose what their coverage under Medicare should look like: • Give future seniors a choice between traditional Medicare and many other health-care plans offering at least the same benefits • Help seniors pay for the option they choose, with a level of support that ensures all can obtain the coverage they need; provide those with lower incomes with more generous assistance • Allow beneficiaries...

Cain Lurves the Race Card

You want some race card? Well here is some race card: That's not messing around. Note that this is not from the Cain campaign but from "Americans for Herman Cain," a group created to support his candidacy. You've got the testimony from Rush Limbaugh, who knows a thing or two about propagating racial stereotypes, and rather than just invoking Clarence Thomas, they actually show the clip of him talking about his "high-tech lynching." You'll recall that the "lynching" Thomas suffered through was one in which his sexual harassment of Anita Hill was revealed to the world and he was criticized for it, before ascending to his lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, not one in which he was beaten, burned, and hanged from a tree until he died, but they're pretty much the same thing, right? Anyhow, Cain's supporters will now be portraying him as a similar martyr to venomous racism. But in case you're confused, here's a review of the right's current stance on that topic: 1. The primary...

Fear Not the Negative Campaign

One thing we can reliably expect in any presidential campaign is that each side will complain that the other side's attacks are beyond the pale of civilized politics. Back in August, New York magazine writer John Heilmann tweeted "Truth: 2012 will be most negative pres campaign of our lifetimes" (I ridiculed the notion here ). News flash: Campaigns often involve candidates criticizing each other, and this one will be no different. So Ben Smith explains that once again, Barack Obama is preparing a relentlessly negative campaign that will nonetheless not leave him tarred as a meanie. This will be accomplished through some combination of grand master-level jiu-jitsu and hypnotism: Attack politics, of course, are more the norm than the outlier in American politics. But while slash-and-burn attacks typically damage both candidates—see, for instance, George Bush's low approval numbers when he was re-elected—Obama has so far pulled off the difficult trick of remaining broadly personally...

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