Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger, and a contributing editor. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

The Myth of the Center

Everyone is obsessed about Obama moving to the center. Too bad it doesn't mean anything anymore.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Even before President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address last week, the press narrative was clear: Obama would be "moving to the center," a voyage that would anger his Democratic supporters, be dismissed as inadequate by his Republican opponents, but would probably help him with independent voters. "Obama Woos Center to Embrace His Vision of the Future," read The Wall Street Journal . "Obama Speech Signals Move to Political Center," said Reuters. "Obama's State of the Union Speech Is Another Move to the Center," said USA Today . But did Obama really "move" anywhere? And what exactly is "the center," anyway? When we examine the speech and everything that happened in the days afterward, it's hard to conclude that the Obama administration has undergone some kind of significant ideological change. The president hasn't moved to reverse any of the policy successes of his first two years (health-care reform being the most notable). The Chicago-born longtime Washington...

The Good Old Days.

Over at FrumForum, the pseudonymous Richmond Ramsey gives an interesting discussion of Fox Geezer Syndrome . Apparently, his parents have lately gone nuts on the subject of politics; as his father explained about his mother, "She’s been like that ever since she started watching Glenn Beck .": Back home, I mentioned to a friend over beers how much Fox my mom and dad watched, and how angry they now were about politics. "Yours too?!" he said. "I've noticed the same thing with mine. They weren't always like this, but since they retired, they've gotten into Fox, and you can't even talk to them anymore without hearing them read the riot act about Obama." I started to wonder how common this Fox Geezer Syndrome was. I began to poll conservative friends of my generation who had right-wing parents. At least eight different people – not an Obama voter among them, and one of them actually a George W. Bush political appointee in Washington – told me that yes, they had observed a correlation...

The Connected World.

If you're over the age of 30 or so, there was probably a time when you thought the idea of getting a cell phone was kind of silly. I remember saying, "I'm not a doctor, or a drug dealer, so what would I need one of those things for?" Then more and more people started to get them, and for a while I still thought it was kind of ridiculous. The breaking point came when I had to pick my better half up at the airport and we couldn't find each other. "Enough is enough," I said, and we got cell phones soon after. And a few years later , it's the idea of leaving the house without your phone that seems ridiculous: GENEVA — The number of Internet users worldwide has mushroomed to reach the two billion mark, the head of the UN's telecommunications agency, Hamadoun Toure, said on Wednesday. The number of mobile phone subscriptions also reached the symbolic threshold of five billion, the secretary general of the UN's International Telecommunications Union (ITU) told journalists. "At the beginning...

Republicans, Democrats, and Transparency.

Is this good news or bad news? The new Republican chairman of the House oversight committee is demanding details of every request for federal records made by citizens, journalists, and others during the last five years under the Freedom of Information Act. It's part of a broad congressional inquiry into President Barack Obama 's promises to improve government transparency. The chairman, Representative Darrell Issa of California, said the committee wants to make sure that "all federal agencies respond in a timely, substantive and non-discriminatory manner" to requests for records under the information law. Well, there could be a number of things going on here. This could have a purely partisan intent – Issa may suspect that the Obama administration has been discriminating in the way it fills FOIA requests against conservative groups, or corporations, or something. He may therefore be hoping to uncover something he can use to bludgeon the administration with. Or he may be hoping to find...

Well, That Should Settle Things.

Hawaiians are so sweetly naïve : Moving to dispel claims that President Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii, his supporters in the state's legislature have introduced a bill that would allow anyone to get a copy of his birth records for a $100 fee. The idea behind the measure is to end skepticism over Obama's birthplace while raising a little money for a government with a projected budget deficit exceeding $800 million over the next two years. "If it passes, it will calm the birthers down," said the bill's primary sponsor, Rep. Rida Cabanilla. " No, no it won't calm them down. You see, birthers aren't birthers because they looked carefully at the evidence and are legitimately suspicious that Obama was not actually born in the U.S. There is no piece of evidence you could show them that would convince them otherwise. As Richard Hofstadter explained in "The Paranoid Style In American Politics," when you show conspiracy theorists evidence that contradicts their conspiracy theory, it only...

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