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

Campaign in Poetry, Govern in Prose

Republicans spun a good tale on the trail -- but Democrats have the advantage of better policies.

In the days before the midterm election, President Obama makes a final get-out-the-vote push for Democratic candidates at Midway Plaisance Park in Chicago. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In charting the last two years, from the euphoria of election night 2008 to the despair of election night 2010, I keep returning to Mario Cuomo's famous dictum that you campaign in poetry but govern in prose. The poetry of campaigning is lofty, gauzy, full of possibility, a world where problems are solved just because we want them to be and opposition melts away before us. The prose of governing is messy and maddening, full of compromises and half-victories that leave a sour taste in one's mouth. Governing, however, is also specific where campaigning is usually vague. And that fact may provide a means for Democrats to regain the political advantage over the next two years. Now that Republicans too will be expected to at least participate in governing, they could find themselves dragged down by the prose. In campaigns, candidates reduce their ideas to simple statements of principle and 30-second ads, and the side whose simple message is more attuned to the moment will probably win. Two...

Strap on Your Feedbags, America!

Your government requests that you inhale this. (Flickr/ Barron Fujimoto ) Yesterday's New York Times contained a rather extraordinary article about a group called Dairy Management, which is a creation of the Department of Agriculture. And what does Dairy Management due with its taxpayer funds? It tries to get people to eat more cheese. Now I love cheese as much as anyone, but the idea that Americans aren't eating enough of it, and we need the government to tell us to eat more, is pretty remarkable. Actually, they aren't telling us to eat more; they're helping fast-food companies come up with ways for us to cram more cheese down our gullets. Check out this excerpt from one of the documents the Times uncovered, a Department of Agriculture report, in which the success of the program is touted under the heading, "Satisfying Unmet Demand by Growing Cheese Through Innovation: The National Program works closely with manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice chains to create new menu items...

Stupid Arguments About the Election.

There are many ways in which one can criticize the strategy the White House employed in its effort to limit losses in this year's elections, but this is about the dumbest thing I've yet heard a Democrat say in the current round of recriminations: "There doesn't seem to be anybody in the White House who's got any idea what it's like to lie awake at night worried about money and worried about things slipping away," said retiring Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D). "They're all intellectually smart. They've got their numbers. But they don't feel any of it, and I think people sense that." Let's count the ways. First of all, there are lots of people in the White House -- including Barack Obama himself -- who have experienced hard financial times. There are hundreds of people who work there, and Bredesen has no idea what any of them have been through in their lives -- he just likes to think that unlike other Democrats, he's a salt-of-the-earth guy, and they must have been born with silver...

Outside the Box, Inside the Bubble.

A question, via Andrew Sullivan : Is it possible to run for president without ever talking to a non-ideological news outlet? Watch the video first, then we'll discuss: As I've argued many times before, Republicans are masters at this kind of outside-the-box thinking. We may have an expectation that part of running for president is doing things like holding press conferences and sitting for interviews with major news organizations, but there's no law saying you have to. And for many candidates, those kinds of interactions with the press are in large part an attempt to keep your face and message in front of people. So if you've got Facebook and Twitter, and Fox and Rush, who needs those meanies in the lamestream media? Well, Sarah Palin probably does, even if she doesn't think so now. If (when?) she's one of many Republican candidates, she won't be able to count on the media giving her every tweet breathless coverage -- and her native audience there isn't all that large (she only has...

The Tea Party and the 2012 GOP Primary Race.

One of the reasons most of us find politics so fascinating is that it's dynamic. There's always another election around the corner, the personalities are always shifting, and every new event is different in many ways than the one before it. Nevertheless, whenever someone says, "Everything is different now," they're probably wrong. Case in point : It's hard to say who's going to have a tougher 2012, Republican pollster Bill McInturff says. With the rise of the tea party Tuesday night, the man who should be in the best position for for the Republican nomination -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- is probably now on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, President Obama, who has failed to appease the left, according to McInturff, is in prime position for an embarrassing and weakening primary challenge from his own party. Tuesday's results blew up the classic GOP nomination model, McInturff told reporters this morning at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. A...

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