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

The Year In: Health Care.

When 2010 began, "death panels" were all the rage, Scott Brown was soon to gain Ted Kennedy 's Senate seat, and health care reform looked to be on the ropes. Within a few months, however, reform, the culmination of decades of work by progressives, became law. But the debate didn't end when the Affordable Care Act was signed, and TAP covered it from almost every angle imaginable: We celebrated the final passage of reform, because while the bill could have been better, we now have a foundation for a comprehensive and humane health-care system. TAP took a long look at what it will take to implement reform and detailed the role grassroots organizing played in the success of the Affordable Care Act. Finally, for all the skepticism about reform, we argued it will eliminate the anxiety and fear so many live with because of the tenuousness of coverage. Is there life left in the public option? Jacob Hacker , whose idea it was in the first place, said yes, and one state (Connecticut) is moving...

Liberal Media Manipulation.

Progressives often lament the right's ability to move its preferred stories from the fringe into the mainstream. Got something you want to get on the agenda? Just let Rush Limbaugh and the folks at Fox know, and they can generate a tornado of outrage that quickly draws the attention of more legitimate sources. The passage of the 9/11 responders bill shows that now and again, the left can do it too. The left doesn't have the same system the right does, and its infrastructure isn't nearly as comprehensive or coordinated, but it can be effective. In this case, it was Jon Stewart who got the ball rolling by bringing some of those responders suffering health effects of their work at Ground Zero on to his show. Stewart's advocacy for the bill drew attention not just because it was plainly right, but because it was unusual for him to be so explicitly pushing for passage of a piece of legislation. After he drew attention to it, other media outlets (even Fox!) decided to cover it, which...

Waste, Fraud, Abuse, and Silliness.

Ever since Ronald Reagan ran for president saying he could balance the federal budget, despite his plans to cut taxes and balloon military spending, by rooting out all the "waste, fraud, and abuse" in the budget, we've been in thrall to the conceit that such a thing is possible. And certain politicians have made a name for themselves as brave investigators of wasteful government. Perhaps no one currently serving has more embodied this brave crusade than Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. And this week, Coburn released an opus entitled Wastebook 2010 , which, as he says in the press release , "will give taxpayers and concerned citizens the information they need to hold Washington accountable." The report is slickly designed and obviously took many, many hours of staff time to produce. But that's the kind of government investment you need if you're going to make an impact on this problem. Now many if not most of the things they've found do sound kind of silly. Did we we need to spend $15.68...

Haley's Way Out.

As you probably know by now, Haley Barbour -- governor of Mississippi, former chair of the RNC and tobacco lobbyist, and potential presidential candidate -- is in a whole heap of trouble over some comments he made in an article in the Weekly Standard, particularly concerning his odd assertion that in his town, the White Citizens Council (known colloquially as the "uptown Klan") was actually a force for racial justice, running the Klan out of town. Needless to say, this is absurdly false . I suppose it's possible, as Jon Chait suggested , that this whole thing will help Barbour by making him a martyr to liberal political correctness, thereby boosting his standing among Republican primary voters. As Adam pointed out , many conservatives consider white people being unfairly accused of racism to be a far more serious and common problem than actual racism. Some conservatives are indeed upset. Jim Geraghty at the National Review , for instance, wrote , "Any white Republican who grew up in...

You Ain't Got the Right.

Pat Buchanan has a predictably outraged column about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (via Conor Friedersdorf ), and in between the medley of culture war tropes ("San Francisco values...social experiment...homosexual lobby...1960s...elites...pseudo-intellectuals..."), he gives voice to what is no doubt a common sentiment on the right in the last couple of days: Remarkable. The least respected of American institutions, Congress, with an approval rating of 13 percent, is imposing its cultural and moral values on the most respected of American institutions, the U.S. military. Remarkable indeed. How dare Congress think it could impose its values on America! Who do they think they are -- lawmakers? I highlight this because it's becoming increasingly common to argue not just that a government policy or decision you don't like is wrong or misguided, but that the entity that made it lacked the right to do so . If a court renders a decision you didn't like, then it's "unelected judges" (...

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