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

That Thing You Said Once Proves Who You Are.

A tremendous proportion of the political case partisans make against the other side's leaders comes down to, "He said something terrible." Think about how many times you've seen a campaign ad keyed off of an offhand remark a candidate made. "Congressman Winklebrain says strangling puppies is 'acceptable.' Do we want a puppy-strangler in Congress?" Barack Obama said people cling to guns and religion! John McCain said "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran"! John Kerry said he voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it! Al Gore said he invented the Internet! Especially in campaigns, we spend a lot of time arguing about just how awful something somebody said was, with the other side always claiming that a single statement revealed the evil lying within the candidate's heart. Part of this has to do with the fact that a lot of what politicians do is talk, so their words are the main thing we have to judge them on. This is particularly true of candidates, who when running for an office...

Your Very Serious New Congress.

The Wall Street Journal tells us today that around a dozen of the incoming freshman class of Republican House members plan to sleep in their offices, perhaps in some kind of a contest for who can come up with the dumbest piece of symbolism to present to the voters back home: It's the ultimate I'm-not-a-professional-politician statement, reminiscent of the 1994 midterm elections, when a GOP House takeover led to a surge in House sleepovers. With voters again shunning Washington and fiscal excess, a number of incoming House members plan to demonstrate their scorn for both by camping out near their new desks. Many more are still undecided but may well join the sleep-sofa caucus. I'd love to know how not getting yourself an apartment is "the ultimate I'm-not-a-professional-politician statement." Because you want to spend literally every minute that you're in Washington on Capitol Hill? It isn't as though they're saving the taxpayers any money -- they don't subsidize housing for members of...

The Postal Service's Soft Hands.

(Flickr/ katerw ) Careful readers will know that I have long felt that the Postal Service is unfairly maligned. As I wrote eight months ago, "What can you get for 44 cents these days? You can get a fun-sized candy bar. Or 3 ounces of coffee. Or maybe one AAA battery, if it's on sale. Or, you can have someone come to your house, pick up a letter you've written, take it 3,000 miles across the country within a few days, and deliver it to your Aunt Millie's door. That's something you can get for 44 cents." But how about the service? Well, it may not always be what we want it to be, but considering what it costs, it's pretty darn good. And here's some more evidence. Popular Mechanics decided to do a little test to see who treats packages the most gently, and here's what they came up with: So which company treats your packages with the most tender loving care? After crunching the data and averaging the number of spikes recorded by each carrier on each trip, we found that the USPS has the...

Tea Party vs. (Certain) Corporations.

In their ongoing project to expand their influence, the Tea Party -- or in this case, Dick Armey 's FreedomWorks -- is about to start targeting corporations for their bottomless wrath. "We are going after the rent-seeking corporations feeding at the public trough," says the organization's spokesperson. Well, sort of. Actually, they're going to be naming and shaming companies that lobbied in support of the stimulus bill, which will no doubt be followed by further targeting of companies too friendly to Democrats in some other way. They certainly won't be going after the who-knows-how-many corporations that procure costly favors of one kind or another from the government -- don't hold your breath for them to target ExxonMobil over the billions in taxpayer subsidies oil companies receive, for example. But they've even got a poll showing that when you tell conservative Republicans that a company supported the stimulus, they turn against the company. I'm guessing the actual economic impact...

Man-On-Fox.

As you probably know, Fox News employs many of the 2012 Republican presidential contenders as "contributors," which mostly means they come on the air periodically, get tossed a few softballs by a Fox host, and talk a bit about what a jerk Barack Obama is. You may have wondered, just what is this free air time worth? Media Matters does the math : Mike Huckabee stands out because he's got his own weekend show on the network. But it seems to me the real winner here is Rick "Man-On-Dog" Santorum , who is all but running already. Unless you're a Fox viewer, you probably haven't thought about him in quite some time. Without this gig, Santorum would have almost no ability to make anyone pay attention to him, and thus the possibility of a presidential run would be even more ridiculous than it already is. Santorum's strategy seems to be to make himself the guy conservative culture warriors should support if Sarah Palin decides not to run. It's a long shot, but it would be even longer without...

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