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

Post Romantic

Despite its current financial woes, the Postal Service is still the best mail delivery service around -- and one of the government's bigger successes.

(U.S. Postal Service/Robert Indiana)
What can you get for 44 cents these days? You can get a fun-sized candy bar. Or 3 ounces of coffee. Or maybe one AAA battery, if it's on sale. Or, you can have someone come to your house, pick up a letter you've written, take it 3,000 miles across the country within a few days, and deliver it to your Aunt Millie's door. That's something you can get for 44 cents. You may have heard that the United States Postal Service is having financial problems and that its service might be significantly altered as a result. According to its latest annual report , the volume of mail it delivered declined 13 percent last year, from 203 billion pieces in 2008 to 177 billion pieces in 2009. This dramatic drop was partly due to the recession, which meant that companies were saving money by mailing out fewer catalogs and solicitations, and partly because of the growing use of e-mail. In any case, it meant less revenue. Now, the USPS has removed mailboxes in many places to simplify its collection task,...

Our Descent Into Godless Communism Continues.

James Fallows spotted something that everybody else seemed to have missed: Obama gave a speech last week (on health care, in this case), and didn't end it by saying, "God bless America." As Fallows explained earlier, America-hating crypto-commies like George Washington , Thomas Jefferson , John Adams , and every president through Jimmy Carter (himself an evangelical Christian) somehow managed to make speeches without this coda. Then as Fallows says, " Ronald Reagan began using the phrase to mean 'The speech is over now,' and ever since then politicians have seemed afraid not to tack it on, perhaps out of fear that we'll have the aural equivalent of phantom-limb pain if we don't hear the familiar words." The first presidential use was actually Richard Nixon 's , but Reagan made it the thing you're supposed to say at the end of every speech. These blessed politicians never say what they're actually intending, however. Is the speaker beseeching God to bless the country in the future, or...

What Do We Want? A Bunch of Crazy Stuff! When Do We Want It? Now!

( Flickr/ chadinbr ) Movements seldom start with tremendously specific legislative agendas, but the Tea Party movement seems unusually divorced from policy realities -- not just the what-could-we-actually-pass realities, but the realities of how government works. The more specific they become in their demands, beyond things like the sign portrayed above, the more absurd they sound. This is what Ed Kilgore points out , after reading the new Tea Party manifesto, " The Contract From America." "My favorite on the list," Ed writes, "is a proposal that in Congress 'each bill … identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does.' This illustrates the obliviousness or hostility of Tea Partiers to the long string of Supreme Court decisions, dating back to the 1930s, that give Congress broad policy-making powers under the 14th Amendment and the Spending and Commerce Clauses." But it doesn't stop there. If you had said to the leaders of the...

Billy, Do You Like Movies About Gladiators?

Today's New York Times has a long op-ed by retired Air Force Gen. Merrill McPeak arguing for keeping the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy in place, and it's an interesting document. McPeak isn't some Republican war-monger -- he opposed the Iraq War and endorsed Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries. But his argument here shows how hollow the defenses of DADT are growing. McPeak makes a lot of detailed and not particularly persuasive points about how many gay people have been tossed from the armed services (essentially arguing that it's really not that big a deal in terms of money spent and talent lost), then addresses the comparison to Harry Truman 's decision to integrate the armed forces in a way I haven't seen before. "No doubt Truman’s action was a landmark in the civil rights struggle," McPeak writes. "However, the order was not actually sufficient inducement for the armed forces to do the right thing." He goes on to explain that the Army and Navy slow-walked...

Sympathy for the Mittster.

I almost feel bad for Mitt Romney . He's obviously a smart guy, and when he was governor of Massachusetts he was pretty much the technocratic kind of governor the voters expected -- not pushing conservative social issues too far, creating a health-care reform that's a lot like what the Obama plan ended up looking like. But since he wants to be president, he has to get past a Republican primary electorate that really doesn't care about smarts and technocratic skill. Identity politics is king in the GOP, and Mitt just doesn't have an identity he can hang his hat on. As someone without any evident sense of self, he'll put on whatever identity he thinks will work. He changed positions on things like abortion and immigration, and there have been few political spectacles more absurd than his speech at the 2008 convention, when this Harvard-trained, son-of-a-former-governor-and-corporate-CEO, centimillionaire Massachusetts resident whipped up the crowd with his alleged scorn for the "Eastern...

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