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

Daily Meme: #Fail—It's All Around Us

  • We all know that failure is just a necessary stage on the path to success. Unfortunately, it doesn't often feel that way, and around the world today, lots of people are struggling with dashed hopes, unrealized goals, and outright blunders.

If You're Tired of a Politician, It Just Means You Don't Like Them

OK, so she has been around for a while. But still.

In presidential politics, it never hurts to be the New Hotness. Who wants the old and tired, when you can get with the fresh, the happening, the now? But as in love, the intoxicating rush of discovery lasts only so long, and then you really have to bring the goods. Which is why exciting new candidates like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama became president, and exciting new candidates like Gary Hart and Howard Dean didn't.

Which brings us to the bigfoot of the 2016 race, one Hillary Rodham Clinton, with whom you might have a passing familiarity.

Your Next Member of Congress Is Extremely Unlikely to Transform Washington

Everything will be different now.

As we begin an election year, a lot of people are having to make their final decisions about whether to run for Congress. Sandra Fluke decided to pass on a House race and run for the California state senate instead. Singer Clay Aiken is running in North Carolina, and though the district makes it a tough slog, the guy is about ten times more skilled in front of a camera than your average candidate, as evidenced by his first ad. Then there's Allan Levene, whose desire to serve his nation is so fervent that he's running in four different districts in four states, which is apparently perfectly legal.

But the candidate I want to talk about is Ro Khanna, who, according to the New York Times, is running to be Silicon Valley's man in Washington. The Valley is split between two districts, represented by Anna Eshoo and Mike Honda, two liberal Democrats who have advocated plenty for the tech industry. But Honda's advocacy must not have been enthusiastic enough, because a parade of tech titans including Eric Schmidt, Sheryl Sandberg, Marc Andreessen, and Marissa Mayer, is lining up behind Khanna's primary challenge to the veteran congressman. Khanna has nearly $2 million in cash on hand (three times as much as Honda), and his web site lists hundreds of "technology leaders" who have endorsed him.

Republicans Are Really, Really Bad at Hostage Negotiations

For some time, I've been arguing that we should not just extend the debt ceiling but get rid of it altogether. It's a weird historical anomaly that serves no practical purpose other than allowing the opposition party, should it be sufficiently reckless, to threaten global economic catastrophe if it doesn't get its way. I assumed that your average Washington Democrat would share this view, but now I'm beginning to think that if you're someone like Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama, the debt ceiling is actually quite helpful, and you'd be sorry to see it go.

Because here's what keeps happening: The debt ceiling approaches. Republicans begin making threats to torpedo the country's economy by not raising it, and thereby sending the United States government into default, if their demands aren't met. We then have a couple of weeks of debate, disagreement, and hand-wringing. Republican infighting grows more intense, and their reputation as a bunch of radicals who are willing to burn down the country to serve their extreme ideology is reinforced. At the end of it, the Republicans cave, the ceiling is raised for some period, and we do it all again in a few months.

And here we go again.

Is Chris Christie Being Treated Unfairly?

Flickr/Gage Skidmore

I have no doubt that right about now, Chris Christie believes he's being treated unfairly. He sees himself beset by his political opponents, by the media (both local and national), and even by some Republicans who'd like to see the guy who a few months ago looked like the most formidable 2016 presidential contender get knocked down a few pegs. And for what? Because a couple of knuckleheads who worked for him thought tying up traffic on the George Washington Bridge would be a good way to stick it to some two-bit mayor? That's what brings down a man whose destiny it was to be the leader of the free world? How can a just universe tolerate such a thing?

Like many a politician before him, Christie was elevated by an adoring media, and is now being laid low by that same media. But his biggest problem is not that unfair conclusions are being drawn about what he and his administration have done. It's that everybody's looking at everything. A reporter who gets a tip about some funny business happening with something connected to New Jersey state government doesn't have to work hard to convince his editors to let him pursue the story. People involved in politics who have interesting stories to tell, and who might never have considered them anything more than amusing tales to swap over drinks, now say to themselves, "Maybe I should call up a reporter." The snowball of Christie-related misdeeds starts rolling down the hill, grabbing everything in its path.

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