Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. 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

No, Mitt Romney Did Not Reveal His True Essence

I wish I could come up with a pithy name for the particular type of faux-scandal that erupted yesterday over Mitt Romney saying "I like being able to fire people", the "That inartful thing our opponent said actually reveals his innermost being" ridiculousness. When you put it that way, it shows just how absurd it is. Just what is it that Mitt Romney's opponents are now trying to persuade us to believe? That what we knew about Romney before yesterday was incomplete, but with this latest statement, the mask slipped and Romney showed his true self. And now we know! Before, we thought he was just a standard-issue corporate raider of the kind conservatives lionize, but it turns out that he actually enjoys causing human misery by throwing people out of work. Egad! This is the most tiresome, and simultaneously most common, kind of campaign dust-up. I can promise you, this won't be the last time this year we'll hear lots of arguments about just how awful and revealing some offhand comment...

Expect Expectations Coverage to Be Expectedly Silly

Campaign reporting isn't easy. It has to be done quickly - filing stories every day, or in some cases multiple times a day, around repetitive and artificial events at which not much happens. Today, Mitt Romney went to a diner in Nashua, where he repeated the same talking points he delivered to people in a diner in Portsmouth yesterday, where he delivered the same talking points he delivered to people in a diner in Manchester the day before ... It's awfully difficult to come up with a "take" on the nonsense of campaigning that will be remotely interesting to your audience. Confronted with this problem, reporters do what they can to create conflict and suspense. At times, they're like kids in a schoolyard, yelling, "Fight, fight, fight!" to two other kids staring each other down. Governor, the Speaker says you're a liar, would you respond? C'mon! Give me something! When the most important outcome of an upcoming event like tomorrow's New Hampshire primary seems all but assured—nobody...

Policies Somewhat Different From Those I Favor Will Kill Us All

I'm sure I'm not alone in finding Rick Santorum a uniquely repellent figure among contemporary Republicans, someone who combines standard-issue objectionable positions on things like economics with a level of reactionary venom on social issues that is becoming unusual even in his own party. With some Republicans, you get the feeling that they'll parrot the party line on the danger of gay marriage, but they really don't mean it. Santorum, on the other hand, really, really dislikes gay people (although he claims he has gay friends, but I'll believe that when we meet one). And he doesn't just want to make it impossible for women to have access to abortions, he actually thinks birth control is morally wrong and states ought to be allowed to ban its use. Coming as he does from the fringe, Santorum is prone to the offhand use of apocalyptic language, to wit : Am I going to go after Mitt Romney on Romneycare? You bet I will, because it was the basis for Obamacare. Why? Because it’s top-down...

Attacking Mitt Romney

It looks increasingly likely that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president, so the Obama campaign needs to decide just how they are going to eviscerate him. As the New York Times asks , "Do they go the out-of-touch, protector-of-Wall-Street route or the flip-flopper route?" The consensus from the smart people they talked to seems to be that painting Romney as overly conservative is the way to go. Of course, Romney can't be both an extremist ideologue and a craven opportunist who'll say or do anything. Either he has the wrong values, or he has no values -- one or the other. Kevin Drum makes an interesting point, however: "The fact is that Romney has reserved almost all of his most extreme rhetoric for laughably over-the-top denunciations of Barack Obama, and that's not really a problem for him. By contrast, most of his issue positions have remained relatively tolerable. The truth is that Romney is unusually well positioned to moderate his image by summer, which is when...

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...

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