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

America, In Present and Future Tense.

E. J. Dionne had a talk with Joe Biden on the subject of American superiority (Biden is strongly in favor), which brings up yet another way in which the right and the left are often talking past each other when they appear to be talking about the same thing. Progressives tend to find conservative jingoism distasteful, which conservatives sometimes interpret to mean that progressives hate America and want it to fail (indeed, one out of four Republicans believes " Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win"). The problem is that the two groups think about the subject of America and its awesomeness in different ways. Conservatives are far more likely to think that loving your country means you should, as often as possible, proclaim how awesome it is. These proclamations can be general ("U.S.A.! U.S.A.!") or specific ("We have the best health-care system in the world!"). The latter can get you into trouble if it's factually wrong, not just because you look foolish but because it actively...

Will DADT Repeal Be No Big Deal?

Over at Foreign Policy , Israeli scholar Danny Kaplan has an article about Israel's experience since it lifted its ban on gays serving in the military back in 1993. The piece's title -- "They're Here, They're Queer, It's No Big Deal" -- pretty much says it all: The United States and Turkey are now the only NATO military powers that do not allow gays to serve openly, but Israel and other countries have shown that the participation of gay soldiers in combat units presents no risk for military effectiveness. What's more, acknowledging their presence might even improve unite cohesion. It is important to understand that even without restrictions, most gay soldiers do not "come out" in combat settings. Only a few of the soldiers I have interviewed confided their sexuality in friends from the unit, and they often did so shortly before leaving their position. Most of them developed strategies to separate between their various personal and social identities. One soldier, a gay activist prior...

Beyond the Creative Class

TAP talks with Christopher Carrick, an urban planner with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, about regional inequality and if there is life after Richard Florida.

(Flickr/Ohine)
Our last print issue included an article on Richard Florida, urban-planning guru and author of the 2002 bestseller The Rise of the Creative Class . Florida's ideas about what drives economic growth -- particularly the presence of a vibrant artistic community, the means to incubate technology, and a large gay community -- were embraced by cities around the country, many of whom paid Florida as much as $40,000 to speak. These days, Florida is saying that many of those cities are beyond hope. Reeling from the effects of the recession, local governments are now struggling to find a path toward sustained prosperity. I spoke about the present and future of American cities with Christopher Carrick, an urban planner with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board in Syracuse. I suppose what was so attractive about Richard Florida was the idea that he had uncovered a foolproof path to economic and cultural vitality. What is the current thinking about what cities can, and...

The Danger of Hiding Behind the Generals.

A key part of the conservative argument for keeping the ban on gay Americans serving in the military is that military leaders supposedly tell us that removing the ban will cause untold chaos. The problem comes when those military leaders begin to change their minds, as John McCain is finding out. His previous position was that "the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy,' then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it." Oh, well. Now that the military leadership has done just that, McCain decided that he has to support the ban because Colin Powell does. Seems that may not be quite the ace in the hole he was hoping for: During the hearing, McCain told the committee that "the reason why I supported the policy to start with is because Gen. Colin Powell, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the one that strongly recommended we adopt this policy in the Clinton administration. I have not heard...

Rush Limbaugh Makes Me Sad.

Rush Limbaugh is happy that Obama is having political troubles, which is as it should be. But this remark is kind of odd: "This is the first time in his life there is not a professor who can turn his C into an A, or to write the law review article for him he can't write. He is totally exposed. There is nobody to make it better," Limbaugh said. Does Limbaugh really think that Obama just isn't that smart, and he got where he is because people gave him a pass? You'll recall that conservatives also like to mock Obama for the fact that when he has a prepared statement to read, he uses a teleprompter. He does this in some situations, like at the start of a press conference, when previous presidents would read the statement off pieces of paper placed at the lectern. Yet those conservatives who like to joke about this take his preference for looking up at his audience rather than down at his lectern as evidence that Obama isn't smart enough to talk extemporaneously. It would be no use to...

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