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

Things Were Better When You Were a Kid, Whenever That Was.

According to a poll released today by The Washington Post , people who are angry about health care are also angry about pretty much everything: The health-care debate has generated intense levels of frustration among the bill's opponents, and those who say they are outright angry almost universally believe that the country is going in the wrong direction -- some say toward an America they no longer recognize. ... In follow-up interviews, many went beyond health care as they spoke of their deep misgivings about the country's leadership and the changes taking place around them. "I grew up in the '50s," said Hugh Pearson , 63, a retired builder from Bakersfield, Calif. "That was a wonderful time. Nobody was getting rich, nobody was doing everything big. But it was 'Ozzie and Harriet' days, 'Leave It to Beaver'-type stuff. Now we have all this MTV, expose-yourself stuff, and we have no morality left, not even by the legislators." Indeed, because back in the 1950s, legislators never...

Don't Let the Revolving Door Hit You on the Way Out.

Yesterday, Tim noted that Rep. Barney Frank , chair of the House Financial Services Committee, has banned the committee's staff from contact with Peter Roberson , a former staffer who went from writing legislation on things like credit-default swaps to working for a company that handles credit-default swaps. Tim is skeptical that such a ban will have much of an impact on the influence of lobbyists, and I agree. Like most well-intentioned process reform ideas, it comes off sounding like, "This isn't really going to help much, but we might as well try." And in the end it usually doesn't help much. As everyone knows, the Capitol Hill revolving door works this way: You work in Congress for a few years, learning the ways and means of our law-making machinery, then cash in by taking that knowledge with you to a lobbying firm. This system is half-heartedly condemned by just about everyone. After all, lobbying is right there in the First Amendment -- you have the right "to petition the...

Score Another One for the Internet.

To follow up on Tim 's discussion of Nate Silver 's takedown of Veronique de Rugy 's bogus study claiming to find that the stimulus has been distributed in a partisan way, this is yet more evidence that the Internet is awesome. In the old days, a completely disingenuous argument like De Rugy's would find its way into influential hands due to her institutional connections with establishment Republicans, get repeated a million times, and perhaps even have an impact on future debates. It would be countered only by somebody at a liberal think tank, who might write a paper showing why it was wrong, and nobody would notice. But now, the mighty Nate Silver , who has a tremendous amount of credibility built not on connections with important people but solely on merit, can quickly gut de Rugy's argument like a trout, and people will actually notice. That's because he has a large audience that he's built up without any kind of institutional support. I'm guessing Rachel Maddow will do a segment...

Grading "The Media."

In a post titled "The Best-Covered News Story, Ever" , Harold Pollack makes an important point: Because it is so easy to find bad reporting and public stupidity, it is easy to overlook something. Press coverage of health care reform was the most careful, most thorough, and most effective reporting of any major story, ever . Throughout this past year, moderately informed and inquisitive readers could get more accurate information, more quickly, and more carefully-analyzed than one ever could before. I concede that one needed to know where to find this information. ... If you read any of the top five or ten national newspapers or (often even better) their accompanying websites, you were only a few clicks away from a remarkable and free library of analysis and supporting information of remarkable depth and diversity. If people don't look, there is only so much the media can do. This is the problem with making an assessment of how "the media" did reporting health-care reform, or anything...

Hopey-Changey at the Department of Labor

During the Bush administration, when I encountered those who wondered whether a particular Democrat (say, John Kerry ) was progressive enough, I would often make the point that at that moment, there were literally thousands of people in positions of power in the federal government who went to work every day attempting to undermine everything those progressives believed in. As we've gotten so focused on big legislative issues like health-care reform, we shouldn't forget that there is a lot of activity going on in federal agencies that normally escapes notice. And progressives ought to be pretty pleased about it. Over at The Nation , Esther Kaplan profiles Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and finds that she has done a pretty remarkable job returning the Labor Department to -- get this -- advancing the interests of working people. It's in large part a product of personnel. For instance, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is now not headed by a former mining-company executive...

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