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

Elite Rhetorical Agenda-Setting.

How does an argument move from the "fringe" to the mainstream? The easiest way is if those already considered mainstream figures in good standing begin making it. Right now, people on the left are making an argument -- that Republicans are intentionally doing everything they can to sabotage the American economy (at least by standing in the way of efforts that might improve it) in order to maximize their chances of winning the White House in 2012. Let's put aside for the moment the question of whether Republicans are, in fact, doing this. As of yet, this argument hasn't moved into the mainstream. Kevin Drum explains : But here's what's really remarkable: virtually no one in any position of authority has picked up on this since [Stan] Collender first suggested it. On the Republican side, practically everyone from the party leaders on down is thoroughly convinced that Barack Obama is one or more of: a socialist, an appeaser, a Chicago thug, a racist, a would-be killer of grandmas, and a...

Smackdown 2012: Republican Establishment vs. Palin.

Back in 2003, when the Howard Dean campaign was building up extraordinary momentum and capturing the fascination of the press, in large part because it harnessed this new-fangled thing called "the Internet," a movement among establishment Democrats popped up to stop this interloper. It was thought that he was too brusque, his politics were too far left (not only had he opposed the Iraq War, which all of the other candidates had supported, he even signed a bill providing civil unions for gay people!), and if he won the Democratic nomination, he would surely go down to defeat. So they started attacking him, and some even went so far as to raise money and run ads in Iowa against him. David Frum, keying off an evisceration of Sarah Palin in The Weekly Standard of all places, sees something similar happening: Politicians love to present a narrative in which they and their band of outsiders battle an entrenched party establishment. In most cases, the stories are self-serving myths: party...

Why Goolsbee's Good.

Today brings us another of Austan Goolsbee's white-board presentations, this one about the GM turnaround: This combination of the current (a top White House aide in his shirtsleeves taping a web video) and the low-tech (a white board) is fairly compelling not merely because of the juxtaposition, or because of Goolsbee's smoldering charisma. It shows that he has a pretty good understanding of how to present data persuasively, at least in the first half of the video. Because creating data visualizations is so easy these days, we get both good and bad. There are oodles of tools out there that allow designers to create fascinating and informative visualizations, and an entire culture has grown up around data visualization. There are many sites that celebrate it -- see here , here , here , here , or here . On the other hand, many people don't realize that you don't actually have to use the default chart settings on Excel, which have brought the world enough ugly charts to reach to Pluto...

Olympia's Choice.

Let's say you're a moderate New England Republican senator, and you're up for re-election in 2012. What looks to be your biggest political problem? Well, looking at what just happened to some of your colleagues, you've got a strong incentive to avoid, or if that's not possible, overcome, a primary challenge. That means doing stuff like this : She was once considered the most likely Republican to vote for health care reform. Now, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is joining scores of Republicans and conservatives in support of the Florida health care lawsuit's plaintiffs, challenging the Constitutionality of the law. Yesterday, she and 30 other Republicans signed an amicus brief in the case. You may remember the extraordinary amount of energy that Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Max Baucus put into courting Snowe during the health-care debate. She played footsie with them for months, always maintaining the idea -- which turned out to be fantasy -- that with the right combination of tweaks to...

Mitt's Mandate.

As you probably know by now, Republicans say they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but when you start asking them about the ACA's provisions -- like a ban on exclusions for pre-existing conditions, or subsidies to small businesses -- they'll invariably say, "Well, we don't want to repeal that . Just the awful socialist parts. We'll put that back in once we 'repeal and replace.'" The thing they do want to repeal is the one unpopular provision, which is the individual mandate to carry insurance. Unfortunately, the whole thing doesn't work without the individual mandate, which brings everyone into the system. (This is particularly true of the ban on pre-existing conditions. Jettison the individual mandate but keep that ban, and every insurer in America would literally go out of business within a year or two.) How do we solve this problem? Matt Yglesias offers a way out, courtesy of Mitt Romney : Romney’s old idea of letting people "demonstrate that they can pay for their own...

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