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

A Most Happy Fella

Here's Rick Perry's new ad in Iowa. Watch, and then we'll discuss: The first thing you notice is that he's wearing a dress shirt, but no jacket or tie. I think this is the first time I've seen him dressed this way. There's also something odd about the lighting and makeup—I can't quite put my finger on what it is that's producing the effect, but the best way to describe it is that he looks like a person who normally wears glasses but has taken them off. There is something kind of dark about Perry's looks —Joshua Green described him perfectly as having "the dark, slightly exaggerated good looks of the villain in a daytime soap opera"—and this washed-out look may be an effort to mitigate that. But he's also displaying a kind of happy-go-lucky affect that is at odds with most of what we've seen of him so far. Even when Rick Perry is smiling, there's usually something kind of sinister underneath. But everything in this ad is bright—the background, the music, and Perry himself. Finally, his...

Believing Cain

The talk of the town today is of course Politico's story detailing how two women who worked for Herman Cain at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990's accused him of sexual harassment, and were then given payouts to leave the organization (and made to sign non-disclosure agreements, of course). Although Politico relied extensively on anonymous sources for their story and obtained only some details about the alleged harassment, it does appear that they worked it pretty hard and didn't publish until they were confident about the facts they had. There are two possibilities here when it comes to the allegations. The first is that the women's allegations are true, which would mean Herman Cain is a pig who preys on women who work for him. The second is that the allegations are false, which would mean Herman Cain is an innocent man besmirched by allegations he can't escape. At the moment, we have no basis on which to determine which of those two is more likely to be true. When...

The Trouble With Iowa

I long ago went on record as a critic of the early election contests in Iowa and particularly New Hampshire, which produce all kinds of distortions in our national politics (take, for instance, the persistence of ethanol subsidies). But there's one I forgot to mention: the inordinate influence given to politicians who would otherwise be regarded as nutballs, simply because they happen to come from an early state. Case in point: an article in today's Politico, "Steve King Not Ready to Crown a 2012er," about how King, an Iowa congressman, has yet to make his much sought-after endorsement. You may not know King, but he is without question one of Congress' most ridiculous characters. He's the kind of guy who goes into an auditorium of schoolchildren and asks them where they stand on abortion. The kind of guy who, after a deranged terrorist flew a plane into an IRS building, killing a US government employee, responded by saying the incident was "sad," but the guy basically was right to...

The GOP's New Latino Friend, Or Maybe Not

For some time now, everyone has assumed that whoever the Republican nominee for president turns out to be, Florida senator Marco Rubio will be that person's choice for vice president. Rubio is young, handsome, charismatic, articulate, good at raising money (he pulled in $21 million for his Senate race last year), and as an added bonus, he's Latino in a party dominated by old, boring white guys. But is the bloom coming off Rubio's rose? In the last week there's been some controversy over the story of Rubio's parents; briefly, he's always referred to them as "exiles" from Cuba and stated before that they fled the Castro regime, but it now turns out that they left Cuba a few years before the revolution. In Florida's Cuban community, this matters, because being an exile or the child of exiles gives you extra status. But as the Washington Post reports today, "Democrats had already questioned whether a Cuban American who has voiced conservative views on immigration and opposed the historic...

The Impermanent Majority

President Bush, left, puts his arm around White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove as they appear before reporters during a news conference announcing Rove's resignation, Monday, Aug. 13, 2007, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
After George W. Bush was elected in 2000, his advisers and allies set about solidifying their control of Congress. In short order, the phrase "permanent Republican majority" started to get bandied about ( here is a reference to it in a Time magazine article from April 2001). That idea partly concerned efforts by Bush and Karl Rove to expand the Republican base to include groups like Latinos, but mostly referred to the House of Representatives. With the right mix of money, targeted legislation, and clever redistricting (the cocktail that landed Tom DeLay in jail), Republicans could make their grip on the House all but impossible to break. For a while, it seemed to be working. Republicans gained seats in 2002, then Bush won re-election in 2004, and a spate of books arrived explaining how Republicans were redrawing the American political map for a generation to come (see here , here , and here ). But it turned out to be anything but permanent. Democrats won back both houses of Congress...

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