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

Kittens Resting Easy Tonight.

This bundle of cuteness has just been saved by the U.S. Senate. (Flickr/ Stijn Vogels ) Back in April, the Supreme Court struck down a law banning depictions of animal cruelty on the grounds that the statute was overbroad (I wrote a column about it) . The law was meant to crack down on "crush videos" - in which women in high heels are seen stepping on small animals, like our friend pictured above - but the Court worried that the law could be used against things like hunting videos (and the case in question actually involved videos of dogfights). If you thought your representatives in Washington would take that kind of thing lying down, you couldn't be more wrong. Following on a House action from July, the Senate just passed a measure making it illegal to make or distribute crush videos - with appropriate exemptions for videos portraying hunting, fishing, trapping, and other wholesome activities. Not only that, they did it unanimously. Maybe Barack Obama has changed the partisan...

People Like Me, Or Not.

We can all shake our heads and laugh at the likes of Sharron Angle , crusader against big government, who just happens to get her health insurance, and her husband's pension, through the government (he was a government employee). Is it hypocritical? Sure. But there's something a little more subtle going on. Take a look at this interesting conversation Rolling Stone 's Matt Taibbi had with some participants at a Tea Party rally: "I'm anti-spending and anti-government," crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. "The welfare state is out of control." "OK," I say. "And what do you do for a living?" "Me?" he says proudly. "Oh, I'm a property appraiser. Have been my whole life." I frown. "Are either of you on Medicare?" Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me! "Let me get this straight," I say to David. "You've been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor , and your wife...

The Latest Victimization Whine.

During the 1990s, when we spent a lot of time debating campaign finance reform, conservatives argued that restrictions on how much someone could give to a candidate or spend on an election were a violation of free speech. The answer to the problem, they often said, was disclosure. Let a corporation spend as much as it wants on campaigns, as long as we know who's spending what; that will take care of the "appearance of corruption" problem. This argument was unpersuasive then, but even so, now that the Roberts Court has unleashed corporate money with the Citizens United decision, they've changed their tune. Now they're fervently opposed to disclosure of campaign spending. Why? Their rationale now is that we must maintain anonymity to protect against liberal bullies, whether activists or the government. Apparently, they're afraid that patriotic American "persons" like, say, oil and tobacco companies, might find themselves not only the victims of boycotts and nasty e-mails, but they might...

Politico's Objectivity Problem.

What do you do if you're an ostensibly "objective" publication, and you really don't like something a politician has done? Well, you can't come out and criticize him, because then you wouldn't be "objective" anymore. So you write a story like this one , from Politico : Rep. Alan Grayson's 'Taliban' Ad Backfires Rep. Alan Grayson 's attempt to equate his Republican challenger with the Taliban is having a big impact — just not the one Grayson may have hoped. In an ad, Grayson's campaign calls Republican Daniel Webster a "religious fanatic" — a charge it supports with video in which Webster seems to encourage wives to "submit" to their husbands. But FactCheck.org says the narrative crafted by the Florida Democrat's campaign distorts what Webster was actually saying. Has the ad really "backfired"? Color me skeptical that all that many voters in the district read the FactCheck.org piece. The article goes on to say that the ad was also criticized in an editorial by the Orlando Sentinel ...

Apple's Next Product Release Will Probably Get Some Coverage.

A new study of technology news from the Project on Excellence in Journalism has a lot of interesting stuff in it, but I wanted to focus on this: That's right -- 15 percent of all technology stories were about Apple. And most of those were about Apple's awesomeness. "More than 40% of the stories about Apple suggested that its products are innovative and superior in quality. ... Another quarter of stories, 27%, highlighted the company’s loyal fan base. ... Just 17% suggested the products are overhyped, and less than half that, 7%, portrayed the company as too controlling with its products." There are a couple of explanations one could offer for this general picture. Apple is really, really good at PR, by both creating buzz and manipulating technology writers. When they release a product, they put on a really, really good show. They make really, really good products. And finally, the people who are Apple fans are really, really excited about every new product, making it easy to put...

Pages