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

There Is No "Real" Mitt Romney

Peter Beinart has some encouraging words for conservatives worried about a Romney presidency, but this has relevance for liberals too: ...within weeks of Romney's election, his chief of staff would be culling through lists of potential deputy secretaries of the interior. The list would be generated by places like the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute and Chamber of Commerce. It would consist largely of people who served in the Bush administration, with perhaps a few entrants who stood out at the state level—which is to say, were particularly zealous in serving corporate interests—thrown in. This list would have been approved, if not actually assembled, by the very industries that the Interior Department regulates. It would be similar to the list that would have been assembled for President Perry or President Cain, and it would include no pro-regulation Republicans, because the people who produce such lists are in the anti-regulation business...

Mitt Romney's Public Option

If you want to be a serious presidential candidate, you have to offer just enough detail in your policy proposals that it appears that you're genuinely grappling with the issues, but not so much that you give people too much material with which to find fault. To that end, Mitt Romney has offered a plan that includes the following about Medicare: Medicare should not change for anyone in the program or soon to be in it. Nor should tax hikes be part of the solution. Reforms must honor commitments to our current seniors while giving the next generation an improved program that offers the freedom to choose what their coverage under Medicare should look like: • Give future seniors a choice between traditional Medicare and many other health-care plans offering at least the same benefits • Help seniors pay for the option they choose, with a level of support that ensures all can obtain the coverage they need; provide those with lower incomes with more generous assistance • Allow beneficiaries...

Cain Lurves the Race Card

You want some race card? Well here is some race card: That's not messing around. Note that this is not from the Cain campaign but from "Americans for Herman Cain," a group created to support his candidacy. You've got the testimony from Rush Limbaugh, who knows a thing or two about propagating racial stereotypes, and rather than just invoking Clarence Thomas, they actually show the clip of him talking about his "high-tech lynching." You'll recall that the "lynching" Thomas suffered through was one in which his sexual harassment of Anita Hill was revealed to the world and he was criticized for it, before ascending to his lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, not one in which he was beaten, burned, and hanged from a tree until he died, but they're pretty much the same thing, right? Anyhow, Cain's supporters will now be portraying him as a similar martyr to venomous racism. But in case you're confused, here's a review of the right's current stance on that topic: 1. The primary...

Fear Not the Negative Campaign

One thing we can reliably expect in any presidential campaign is that each side will complain that the other side's attacks are beyond the pale of civilized politics. Back in August, New York magazine writer John Heilmann tweeted "Truth: 2012 will be most negative pres campaign of our lifetimes" (I ridiculed the notion here ). News flash: Campaigns often involve candidates criticizing each other, and this one will be no different. So Ben Smith explains that once again, Barack Obama is preparing a relentlessly negative campaign that will nonetheless not leave him tarred as a meanie. This will be accomplished through some combination of grand master-level jiu-jitsu and hypnotism: Attack politics, of course, are more the norm than the outlier in American politics. But while slash-and-burn attacks typically damage both candidates—see, for instance, George Bush's low approval numbers when he was re-elected—Obama has so far pulled off the difficult trick of remaining broadly personally...

Does Fact-Checking Work?

Politico 's Ben Smith wrote a long article about America's fact-checking industry ( PolitiFact , FactCheck , etc.), and he does a good job of describing the tug-of-war between these sites and political spin-meisters, as well as addressing some of the inherent weaknesses in the criteria they use to find the line between truth and falsehood. But there's one very important question missing from the article: Does fact-checking work? By "work," I mean a couple of things. The first is, does it change politicians' behavior? Is a candidate who gets called out for a lie in a fact check going to stop saying it? I posed that question to Bill Adair, who runs PolitiFact, when I interviewed him for a story about this topic that never actually found its way into print (long story). Adair's response was that changing politicians' behavior isn't his job; he and his organization put their best assessment of the facts on the record, and then whatever happens next is basically out of their hands. One...

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