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

The Tea Party Movement, and the Hard Work of Journalism.

One of the striking things about David Barstow 's excellent 4,500-word story on the tea party movement that appeared in the New York Times last weekend was the perspective it gave on the participants. In the typical tea party story, you get a couple of comments from people at rallies, a quote from Dick Armey , some speculation about how this will all play out in November, and maybe, just maybe, an aside saying that there's some radicalism around the fringes of this movement. But since Barstow took the time -- months of time, actually -- he got a much deeper view of who the participants are and what they believe. The picture that emerged was one where conspiracy theories and panic about impending tyranny aren't just something that is found here and there, but run like blood all through this movement's veins. Barstow did a Q & A with the Columbia Journalism Review , and it's good reading if you're interested to hear what's involved in doing real in-depth reporting. After spending...

Austin and Conservative Rhetoric.

When an incident like that of the man in Austin who flew his plane into an IRS building happens, it's tempting to use it to bash the hell out of one's opponents. And frankly, in this case it's not unreasonable to do so. When conservatives incessantly portray taxes as the theft of a tyrannical government from hard-working people, it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that some start to take that argument seriously. But is it fair to extend the circle of blame for actions like this one to those who preach hatred of the government? What about the case of Jim Adkisson , who after writing a note which said that "liberals are a pest like termites … the only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is kill them in the streets," walked in to a Unitarian church in Knoxville and opened fire, killing two people and injuring seven others? Police later found in Atkisson's home a collection of books by the likes of Bill O'Reilly , Michael Savage , and Sean Hannity , the common theme of which is...

The Conspiracist's Political Action Conference

As this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) opens, we're seeing an interesting new phase in the evolution of the American right. While political movements usually have internal debates about where they should position themselves ideologically, the right has become the "big tent" the GOP always claimed to be. Worried about the Bilderberg Group imposing a one-world government? Want to go back to the gold standard? Spend a good portion of your time painting Hitler mustaches on pictures of President Obama ? Don't feel fully dressed unless you're wearing colonial-era garb? Then come on in -- we couldn't be happier to have you. CPAC is always something of a bacchanalia of paranoia and hate, as right-wing pundits and Republican politicians offer the audience a steady stream of insults at liberal politicians, at which they whoop and cheer. (Remember when Ann Coulter called John Edwards a "faggot"? That was awesome!) But in a bold move, this year's conference is being co-...

The Latest In Founding Father Fetishism.

Today, a group of movement right muckety-mucks released "The Mount Vernon Statement," meant to be a guiding document for their side. You've got the heavyweights -- Ed Feulner of the Heritage Foundation, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform -- and a few lesser lights, such as professional gay-basher Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness. The document itself is about as vague as it could be. There isn't a single policy issue mentioned; just a lot of repetitions of phrases like "founding principles" and "limited government." But you'll note that it's presented on yellowed paper, with clip art of quill pens at the top! And the signatures are in ornate, Hancock-esque script! And it's called the Mt. Vernon statement -- like George Washington , get it? I'll bet these folks got a wake-up call when Glenn Beck asked Sarah Palin who her favorite founding father was. Palin, who like most of us probably didn't know she was supposed...

Answering the GOP on Health Insurance.

Feeling the need to pretend they actually have a desire to reform health care, Republicans have seized on two things they can repeat: 1) We should have "tort reform," which when Republicans design it means making it almost impossible to recover reasonable damages for medical errors, and 2) We should "let people buy insurance across state lines." As with many arguments they make, this sounds perfectly sensible, so long as you don't know anything about how things actually work. In practice, letting people buy insurance from any state would result in an immediate race to the bottom, of the kind we've seen in the credit card industry. Ever wonder why all your credit card bills go to South Dakota? The reason is that unlike most states, South Dakota has a virtually limitless "usury" law, meaning businesses located there can charge as much interest as they like. Their law was literally written by Citibank in 1980. In short order, credit card companies moved their operations there (and to...

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