Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

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...

Blue Dogs Neutered.

A couple of weeks ago, I argued that this election was going to cause more polarization, because you'd have a lot of incredibly conservative Republicans getting elected and a lot of moderate-to-conservative Democrats losing. Lo and behold, that's what happened. In particular, the Blue Dogs who have made life so miserable for the Democratic leadership were pretty much decimated : According to an analysis by The Huffington Post, 23 of the 46 Blue Dogs up for re-election went down on Tuesday. Notable losses included Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-S.D.), the coalition's co-chair for administration, and Rep. Baron Hill (D-Ind.), the co-chair for policy. Two members were running for higher office (both lost), three were retiring and three races were still too close to call. Nevertheless, I think it would be a mistake to conclude that the strategy employed by many Blue Dogs of running against the Democratic Party was what caused their defeat. The fact is that if you were running in a...

Sarah Palin, Seinfeld Fan?

Well this is odd. In reaction to a Politico story about other Republicans worried about the consequences of her running for president, Sarah Palin -- in what seems to be a perpetual snit about the fact that people criticize her -- e-mailed the Daily Caller her complaint, including this riff on the fact that Politico used anonymous sources: "I suppose I could play their immature, unprofessional, waste-of-time game, too, by claiming these reporters and politicos are homophobe, child molesting, tax evading, anti-dentite , puppy-kicking, chain smoking porn producers…really, they are… I’ve seen it myself…but I’ll only give you the information off-the-record, on deep, deep background; attribute these 'facts' to an 'anonymous source' and I'll give you more." Wait a minute -- anti-dentite? How would a real American like Sarah Palin even know that reference, much less assume that other people know it? It's a reference to an episode of "Seinfeld" -- that program about Manhattanites who...

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