Paul Waldman

It's Beginning to Feel Like 2002 All Over Again

(Photo: AP/Rachel La Corte)
(Photo: AP/Rachel La Corte) Protesters on opposing sides of the refugee issue rally in front of the state capitol in Olympia, Washington, after Governor Jay Inslee said the state would welcome refugees. A t the end of last week, the liberal group Media Matters noted that in the wake of the Madrid bombings in March 2004, Fox News personality Bill O'Reilly asserted that "If al-Qaeda attacks here, President Bush is re-elected in a heartbeat," since "unlike the Spanish," who are passive sheep (or something), the strong American public "won't surrender, they'll get angry." But after the recent attacks in Paris, O'Reilly sang a different tune: "We get hit, [Obama] goes down as the worst president in U.S. history. No doubt." While Media Matters's purpose in juxtaposing these two quotes was surely to mock O'Reilly for his partisan hypocrisy, you can look at it another, much more depressing way: O'Reilly was probably right both times. Not about history's judgment of Obama, obviously. But given...

Will the GOP Candidates Try to Reignite Voters' Fears?

(Photo: AP/Morry Gash)
(Photo: AP/Morry Gash) Republican presidential candidates take the state during the November 11 GOP Debate in Milwaukee. I t's easy to believe that the way things are today is the way they're going to stay, to be be swayed by the momentary intensity of a situation into thinking its effects will be longer-lasting than they are. So it might be that a few months from now, the attacks that took place in Paris on Friday will have exerted no meaningful pull on American policy and American politics. But a few days out, it sure feels familiar. Fear—its presence among the people, but even more so its exploitation by politicians—is back. No one was more energized by the news from France than the Republicans running for president, who fell all over each other trying to see who could sound the toughest. Marco Rubio declared , "This is a clash of civilizations," as though ISIS were in fact its own civilization. Ben Carson, displaying his usual commitment to factual accuracy, attacked the Obama...

What the Right Still Doesn't Get About the Media

(Photo: AP/Alan Diaz)
(Photo: AP/Alan Diaz) GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks at a new conference in Florida on November 6. B en Carson now faces the intense scrutiny every front-running presidential candidate gets, and he doesn't like it one bit. Carson is now facing allegations that he has exaggerated, embellished, or even made up parts of his oft-told life story, not to mention extended discussion of his more outlandish statements. But to all this, Carson has a ready answer, one he knows will send conservative heads nodding in agreement: The liberal media is out to get me. In an unusually combative (for him) press conference on Friday, Carson charged the media not only with being unfair to him, but also of giving Barack Obama a free ride in 2008. "I do not remember this level of scrutiny for one President Barack Obama when he was running," he said. "In fact, I remember just the opposite." This is a longstanding belief in conservative circles, but if you pay close attention you'll notice that...