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

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...

It's Never Too Early to Plan for 2012.

One of the odd things about this year's election was how much attention was garnered by what turned out to be some some rather unimportant candidates, like Christine O'Donnell and that Nazi re-enactor guy. In truth, there was a wide variety among even those identified as Tea Party candidates -- some of whom were genuinely nuts, and some of whom were really just ordinary Republicans who saw the opportunity to jump on board a fast-moving train. That's true even of those who got elected. Rand Paul , for instance, doesn't seem to be all that smart, knows virtually nothing about government, and is nearly impossible to imagine turning into an effective legislator. But he had the good fortune of running in a terrific year for Republicans, in a state that tilts overwhelmingly right. Marco Rubio , on the other hand, is a smart guy who had served in the state Senate, was an excellent campaigner, and is someone you could imagine turning into an effective legislator. Both of them called...

Michele Bachmann Will Drink Your Milkshake.

There's an old adage that there are two kinds of legislators, "work horses" and "show horses," those who get things done, and those who give speeches and preen for the camera. It's not really as simple as that -- there are some who do both and plenty who do neither. But the division is certainly there, and in the GOP, it's going to get starker. There are a couple of reasons why. First of all, we've got an incoming crop of people who got elected without any legislative experience, who have shown no particular interest in legislating, and who are intensely ideological. That's not true of all of them, but it is true of many. For instance, what kind of a senator do you think Rand Paul is going to be? Is he going to be burning the midnight oil to write complex bills to attempt to solve vexing problems facing the country, working quietly behind the scenes to assemble coalitions to pass serious legislation? I wouldn't hold your breath. And second, the show horses in demand right now from the...

Looking Back for Hope.

As Barack Obama is looking for reasons not to feel bad today, one thing he's probably thinking about is that a number of his predecessors faced something very similar -- steep losses in their first midterms -- yet nevertheless went on to win re-election easily. And what enabled them to do that? The main reason is pretty simple: an improving economy. Politics is obviously complicated, but nothing matters more. Let's look at a picture: What's really interesting about this is Ronald Reagan . His 1984 campaign was all about how it was "morning in America" -- in other words, you never had it so good. Yet in October of 1984, unemployment was still 7.4 percent, which is pretty darn high (as a point of comparison, it didn't get that high for a single month of Bill Clinton 's term). The thing was, that figure was down substantially from its peak of 10.8 percent, where it stood in November and December of 1982 (there are historical data here ). So to most people, it felt like things were not...

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