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 (So Far) Scandal-Free Administration.

Rep. Darrell Issa , who as chair of the House Oversight Committee will be chief inquisitor in the new congress, has gotten some attention from his remark that Barack Obama is "one of the most corrupt presidents of modern times." And what kind of corruption has this corruption-hunter uncovered? Kickbacks to supporters? Shady contract deals? Suitcases full of cash from foreign dictators? Well, not really. "When you hand out $1 trillion in TARP just before this president came in, most of it unspent, $1 trillion nearly in stimulus, that this president asked for, plus this huge expansion in health care and government, it has a corrupting effect," Issa explained. So the "corruption" is that the government has spent money on things Issa didn't think it should have spent money on, and also enacted policies with which he disagrees. As idiotic as that assertion may be, it actually raises something interesting: the Obama administration, in its first two years anyway, has been extraordinarily...

That's How We Do It on the Street, Lunch Meat!

If we've learned anything in the last couple of years, it's that the costs of political looniness are limited and localized. The Republican Party has galloped to the right, with some of its most visible spokespeople being ... well, let's just say not a group of wise and reasonable statesmen. Yet they certainly didn't suffer much for it at the polls in November. Yes, some of their craziest candidates lost, but the extremism of people like Sharron Angle did little to impede the GOP wave. And at the moment, the party seems to be casting about for new ways to find those within its ranks insufficiently doctrinaire. The contenders to chair the RNC had to sit down yesterday for a debate, in which they were asked questions about just how much they deplore the prospect of gay people being allowed to marry, and what their favorite book is. Call me crazy, but if I were a Republican, my concern about prospective RNC chairs wouldn't be what their favorite books are or even what they believe in...

Forgive Me Primary Voters, for I Have Sinned.

I doubt anyone would deny that at the moment, the Republican Party takes a harsher view of apostasy than their Democratic counterparts. This is partly because they represent a narrower ideological spectrum of constituents and officeholders, and partly because the party's conservatives recently discovered that they had a good deal of power to purge, which serves not only to get candidates more to their liking but also to make everyone else in the party live in fear of them. The Politico tells us that there's a potential problem in this area for some 2012 presidential candidates: On the campaign stump, in books, speeches and nationally-televised commercials, aspiring GOP White House candidates such as Tim Pawlenty , Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney have warned in recent years about the threats from climate change and pledged to limit greenhouse gases. Some have even committed the ultimate sin, endorsing the controversial cap-and-trade concept that was eventually branded "cap and tax." Now...

The Practice of Politics

We talk about "change" as something systemic, when we actually just want the policy pendulum to swing back our way.

Barack Obama campaigning for president (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
There are few things in politics more absurd, or more reliably recurring, than the candidate for Congress who proclaims earnestly that once elected, he or she will "change the way they do things in Washington." Just you wait, you logrolling legislators, you leeching lobbyists, you blundering bureaucrats -- once freshman Rep. Smith gets to town, the old order is going to come crashing down! Within a few months, the representative stops talking about "change" and assures his constituents he knows how to work the system to their advantage. Before you know it, he's being challenged by a new politician, who proclaims her hatred of politicians and promises to deliver the "change" for which everyone has been yearning. This week, the members of the 112th Congress say their oath of office. Nearly one in four House representatives is new, and almost all of those promised that their arrival would sweep the winds of change through the Capitol. But if that's what you're expecting, you shouldn't...

2012/2016 Speculation.

Over the weekend, Newsweek speculated that John Huntsman , the former Utah governor who is now the ambassador to China, might be considering a run for the White House in 2012. This was greeted with a round of "Oh, please" by most people, not just because Huntsman is a relatively moderate, non-crazy member of the GOP, but because he actually took a job working for Barack Obama for heaven's sake, which means he probably hates America. Not only that, he speaks fluent Mandarin, and we all know that knowledge of a foreign language is evidence of insufficient love for this land of ours. (Don't tell anyone, but Mitt Romney speaks -- cover the children's ears -- French . He learned it the same way Huntsman learned Chinese, on his mission for the Mormon church.) James Fallows, the wisest person in Washington, says that Huntsman "is indeed a very attractive long-term national prospect for the Republicans, whenever they have gotten to the other side of their current Palin/Limbaugh/Gingrich phase...

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