Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger, and a contributing editor. 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

Whose Media Bias?

Progressives' attempt to reshape the media has had some successes, but the failures may be more instructive.

In this Aug. 24, 2004, photo, former Air America radio host Al Franken is seen during a news conference in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
When Air America finally shut its doors early this year, it wasn't front-page news. Plagued by mismanagement and multiple ownership changes, the progressive radio network had failed to turn its respectable ratings into profits, even though it made a U.S. senator out of its first marquee personality, Al Franken, and a television star out of its last, Rachel Maddow. When it finally went off the air, most of the people who were supposed to be its target audience probably didn't notice. Air America was part of a complex project the left began to undertake about a decade ago, one that involved millions of dollars and hundreds of activists, donors, strategists, scholars, and writers both inside Washington and around the country. It was no conspiracy -- its aims were declared publicly in every communication medium available: to duplicate conservatives' success in influencing the media. When this effort began in earnest after the 2000 election, progressives saw mainstream journalists cowed by...

Be All You Can Be, World Edition.

Gawker has given us a fascinating collection of military recruiting ads from around the world, and like much culture these days, they show a strong American influence while nevertheless retaining their local character. The Indian, French, and Australian ones essentially follow the American template: Join the military, and you will do a bunch of badass things yet also learn about computers and set yourself up for a great career once you're done (although the French soldier pauses from badassery long enough to make out with a beautiful girl -- hey, he's French -- and even hold his newborn baby). The Swedish one is highly weird, saying to Swedish girls, you can either go and be an au pair for a crazy American family, or you can drive a tank. But the most compelling ones have to be the British and Lebanese ads. The first half of the British ad seems to be saying, "Join the military, and you'll have heavily armed, extremely agitated foreigners yell at you in a language you don't understand...

They're With Stupid

Anti-intellectualism rears its head.

Sarah Palin (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Dwight Eisenhower once defined an intellectual as "a man who takes more words than are necessary to tell more than he knows." While Eisenhower was perfectly happy to have people mistake his lack of eloquence for a modest intelligence, he would never have gone so far as to proclaim himself proud to be dumb or uninformed. Yet there are some who seem tempted to do just that. Last month, Sarah Palin added to her growing body of fascinating public utterances by pleading with Muslims to "refudiate" the Islamic center planned for near Ground Zero in New York (it turned out it wasn't the first time she had used the word). Eventually, the Weekly Standard , one of the chief organs of the intellectual right, began selling T-shirts and bumper stickers saying "Refudiate Obama" and "Refudiate socialism." We probably shouldn't make too much of this -- they're just having a bit of fun, after all. But embracing Palin in all her nincompoopery must, in the words of the former Alaska governor herself, "...

Chart of the Day: Is Our Grandparents Tweeting?

A few years ago, The Onion did a story titled " Google Launches 'The Google' For Older Adults ," in which a spokesman explained, "All you have to do to turn the website on is put the little blinking line thing in the cyberspace window at the top of the screen, type 'thegoogle.com,' and press 'return'—although it will also recognize http.wwwthegoogle.com, google.aol, and 'THEGOOGLE' typed into a Word document." But it looks like our elders may be getting more interweb savvy : Now, this is among people already online in some way, but it's nevertheless pretty remarkable. A quarter of all Internet users over 65 are on social-networking sites, and nearly half of those over 50. That's probably mostly Facebook, but Twitter is gaining in popularity among mature Americans: "One in ten (11%) online adults ages 50-64 and one in twenty (5%) online adults ages 65 and older now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves or see updates about others." I look forward to...

It's About Who You Are.

In my continuing effort to point out when I agree with conservatives, Ross Douthat is absolutely right in his assessment of Glenn Beck : Now more than ever, Americans love leaders who seem to validate their way of life. This spirit of self-affirmation was at work in evangelicals' enduring support for Bush , in the enthusiasm for the Dean campaign among the young, secular and tech-savvy, and now in the devotion that Palin inspires among socially conservative women. The Obama campaign raised it to an art form, convincing voters that by merely supporting his candidacy, they were proving themselves cosmopolitan and young-at-heart, multicultural and hip. In a sense, Beck's "Restoring Honor" was like an Obama rally through the looking glass. It was a long festival of affirmation for middle-class white Christians — square, earnest, patriotic and religious. If a speaker had suddenly burst out with an Obama-esque "we are the ones we’ve been waiting for," the message would have fit right in...

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