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

Karl Rove's New Machine, and Its Limitations.

One of the interesting questions over the next couple of years will be how establishment Republicans and Tea Party Republicans will deal with each other, particularly since the latter are more concerned with ideological purity and ceaseless partisanship, even when it may not be strategically wise. Keep that question in mind as we ponder the present and future of Karl Rove . When George W. Bush left the White House, Rove surely wondered where he could go from there. After having run a couple of presidential campaigns and worked as a top adviser in the White House, he certainly wasn't going to go back to writing candidates' direct-mail pieces. But then a few things happened to show him the way to the next phase of his career. First, Michael Steele got elected chairman of the Republican National Committee and quickly showed himself to be a buffoon whom major Republican donors couldn't trust with their money. Then the Supreme Court, in the Citizens United decision, removed most of the...

In Defense of Meg Whitman.

My main objection to Meg Whitman 's campaign for California governor has been the way she has been an exemplar of the "I'm not a politician, I'm a businessperson" argument, which is one of my pet peeves . I will say one thing about her -- the $150 million or so she's dropping on this race should give a boost to California's economy. But I've got to rise to her defense for what just happened to her. As you might have heard, Whitman and her opponent Jerry Brown got up on a stage with Matt Lauer , who asked the two this: "In one week left, would either of you, or both of you, be willing to make a pledge that you would end the negativity?" Brown sort of said yes, but Whitman wouldn't take the bait. For which, of course, she was criticized, and even booed by the crowd. But this is a bum rap. First of all, the California governor's race has been mild -- an undocumented housekeeper here, a potty-mouthed aide there, but nothing really brutal. Second, just because an ad is "negative" doesn't...

Just the Story, Ma'am.

Last week I asked why reporters don't more often ask candidates, "What exactly are you talking about?" when they make sweeping claims about things like our freedoms being taken away. And last night, Rachel Maddow 's program featured her doing just that when talking to some Joe Miller supporters out waving signs on an Alaska street corner. It's a pretty telling exchange: Keep in mind that these are folks who are so mad about this particular issue, and so fervent in their defense of their Second Amendment rights, that they're out on a corner talking to people about it. One supporter says they're mad at Lisa Murkowski because she voted to confirm Attorney General Eric Holder . Maddow asks why they're against that, and they all chime in that Holder is "the most anti-gun Attorney General this country has ever had." Maddow politely asks a simple question: "What's he done against guns?" And the guy is stumped -- he can't come up with anything. Maddow turns to another sign-waver and ask her...

Your Tax Dollars at Work, Squishy Dextrous Edition.

If robots are ever going to do all our housework and pick up all our garbage, they're going to need to improve their dexterity. The human hand is a marvel of coordination, strength, and subtlety. Figuring out how to produce robot hands that can do anything like what a human hand can do has been a famously difficult engineering challenge. But the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been working on it, and now some scientists working with a DARPA grant have come up with a marvelously low-tech and creative solution, as Popular Science tells us : Working with funds from DARPA, researchers at Cornell University, the University of Chicago and iRobot came up with an ideal robotic gripping device, simply a latex party balloon filled with ground coffee... It takes advantage of a physical phenomenon called jamming transition. When particles (like coffee grounds) are so densely packed that they can no longer slide past each other, they behave like a solid. When they’re loosely...

This Is Not a Welcome Trend.

If you're living where there's a contested election or two, you're probably getting a lot of mailers from candidates. Maybe you don't like them, but it isn't that big a deal -- give it a glance, toss it in the recycling. But just you wait. Yesterday I noted an article in The New York Times discussing how some experiments have shown that prompting people to feel disgust -- say by showing them something gross or even just putting them next to a container of hand sanitizer, which prompts them to think of germs -- can push people to support conservative candidates. That article discussed a mailer New York governor candidate Carl Paladino sent during his primary that smelled of garbage, to demonstrate the corruption in Albany (or something). Well Van Tran , a Republican candidate for Congress in California, must have heard about it : Republican Van Tran, the upstart challenger to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), is betting on voters sniffing out his opponent's struggles -- literally. Tran...

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