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

But Seriously, Folks ...

One of the ways we criticize people on the other side is to say they aren't "serious" about some policy matter, or about policy in general. Even though I've used it myself, it's a problematic thing to say, because what it essentially says is, "There is no need to listen to anything this person says." People who thought it was a bad idea to invade Iraq were derided for lacking seriousness about foreign affairs, for instance, a claim usually made by those who turned out to be spectacularly, embarrassingly wrong about the thing they were claiming such seriousness about. Nevertheless, we are now confronted with an entire army of people running for office who seem rather unserious when it comes to the whole "making laws" thing. They seem to be so intensely ideological that they haven't bothered to think about policy. When you start asking them questions, they very quickly reveal themselves to have a shockingly superficial understanding of things. So after Rand Paul reveals his own...

Vote for Me, Because Pshew Pshew Pshew!

This (via Andrew Sullivan ) is my new favorite campaign ad of 2010, for one Pamela Gorman , who's running for a congressional seat in Arizona. Watch, and then we'll discuss: Except for the "I'm Pamela Gorman and I approve this message" at the end, Gorman is mute during the ad, either staring glassy-eyed into the camera or shooting guns of various types. In fact, there are no fewer than six separate shots of her shooting. While we do learn that she hates taxes -- a real policy issue! -- what this ad is mostly about is that Pamela Gorman loves shooting. Let's all look at her shooting. There she is, shooting. Am I the only one who sees this and thinks of those videos in the bargain bin at Blockbuster with titles like "Hot Chicks and AKs" that consist of nothing but girls in bikinis shooting assault rifles? You can call that sexist, but if you think the ad's producers didn't have something like that in mind, then I've got a bridge you might be interested in. It isn't easy to come up with...

Congressional Staffers: Just Like Us? Who Knew!

Matt Yglesias calls this article in Politico "the most pointless article ever written," and it would be hard to disagree. I'll save you a click: It's about how a young man who works for a member of Congress decided to make himself a home-cooked pizza last weekend. Yes, that's really what it's about. Is it a parody? It wouldn't be out of place at The Onion , although they would have given it a bit more verve -- perhaps something like, "Local Man Ignores Crushing Meaninglessness of Existence in a Godless Universe, Makes Pizza." Bear with me here -- I'm going to pull something out of this, just you wait. This article appears on Politico 's "Click" site, which bills itself as "The premier destination for news and gossip on D.C.'s social scene." Here's the thing about gossip, though. To grab our attention, gossip should be about events that are inherently interesting -- a sordid tale of betrayal and murder, say -- or it should be mundane but involve inherently interesting people. Hollywood...

Germans Give the Rest of Us a Helping Hand.

(Flickr/ OregonDOT ) Let's pause to give thanks to the Germans, for an experiment they started 10 years ago to promote the use of renewable energy. As an article in Technology Review explains, the policy enacted in 2000 forced utility companies to buy electricity from solar, wind, and other renewable producers at inflated rates, with the costs spread across all ratepayers. This guaranteed a secure market for the renewable producers, thereby encouraging more development of these kinds of energies. It's the kind of thing that the cynics among us would say couldn't happen here in America: a policy for which everyone had to pay, to serve an environmental end, with little in the way of immediate direct benefits. It didn't create as many permanent jobs as they'd hoped, and the whole thing cost a lot of money. Of course, this is only one way to go about encouraging the development of renewable energy. But in any case, the Germans did the rest of us a favor by boosting the demand for solar...

The Obama Analogy Trap

Is Kagan Obama's Harriet Miers? Is BP his Katrina? There's a reason these comparisons tell us so little.

President Obama keeps his eye on the long game. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)
In the couple of days between the arrival of that fateful Rolling Stone article and President Barack Obama's firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, one pundit after another asked if this would be Obama's "Truman-MacArthur moment." It was just the latest in a long line of historical analogies into which people attempted to fit Obama. While it would be hard to prove with any certainty, it does seem that this presidency has seen more historical analogizing than those of the past. Why is that? Before we answer that question, let's just run down a few of the comparisons. Is the BP oil spill Obama's Katrina? Is Elena Kagan his Harriet Miers? Was his recent Oval Office address his "malaise" speech? Did he have a "Mission Accomplished moment" on Iraq? In recent days, Fox News personalities in particular have compared Obama's actions to Iraq, September 11, Enron, "Heckuva job, Brownie," and even George W. Bush reading "The Pet Goat" while airplanes hit the Twin Towers (see a montage from The Daily...

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