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

Crazy People Running for President

AP Photo/Andy Dunaway
Every four years, many people decide to run for president. You don't hear about most of them, because the news media decide, and reasonably so, to ignore folks like the immortal Charles Doty . Even among those who have held major political office, however, some are deemed serious and some are not. For instance, Buddy Roemer — a former member of Congress and governor of Louisiana — is considered not serious, as is Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico. Both are running for the Republican nomination, but neither gets invited to debates or has journalists reporting on their campaigns. Yet Michele Bachmann is considered one of the "real" candidates, even as she languishes in the mid-single-digits in polls. Of course she won't be president, but I think it's worth pointing out that someone like Bachmann can still be treated as a real candidate. Since we've almost gotten used to her, at times one has to step back and marvel at just how incredibly nutty this person is, and the fact...

Has Grover Norquist Made Himself Unnecessary?

You should read Tim Dickinson's long article in Rolling Stone about how the GOP became the party of the one percent. Essentially, the story is that while there was once a real substance to the idea of "fiscal conservatism"—that Republicans really did care about balancing the books and being good stewards of the public's tax dollars—the last 20 years have brought the Republican Party to a much different place. While they once saw taxes as simply the way to pay for the things government does -- they shouldn't be too high, since conservatives want limited government, but they shouldn't be so low that we run up deficits -- they now see them as an outright evil that really has nothing much at all to do with deficits. Deficits are a handy tool to use when there's a Democrat in the White House to force spending cuts, but not much more. Dickinson puts Dick Cheney at the center of this story, which one could quibble about, but there's something here that I think calls for some discussion: In...

Another Fake Presidential Candidate Rises to the Top

If everything works out, the Buddy Roemer boomlet should be perfectly timed to sweep him to victory in the Iowa caucus and make him the Republican nominee for president. OK, I'm kidding (and in case you were wondering, Buddy Roemer is a former Louisiana governor and congressman who is running for president, but for some reason, he's considered "fringe" and ignored while a half-dozen equally clownish candidates are allowed to participate in the debates). But watching the Newt Gingrich surge—he's now leading the Republican field in some polls —you could almost believe that every candidate, including Roemer, will eventually get their day atop the field. I haven't gone back and checked (my personal awareness only dates back to 1988), but has there ever been a presidential primary race that has cycled through this many front-runners? We've had Romney, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and now Gingrich atop at least some poll at some time or another. I think our old friend Sarah Palin (remember...

Herman Cain's Known Unknowns

If you haven't seen it already, here's a remarkable video of Herman Cain struggling to answer a question about whether he disagreed with the actions President Obama took in supporting the Libyan uprising. From the first moment, it's something we almost never see in a presidential candidate. He looks like a student who forgot to study struggling through an oral exam. He asks for hints, he stares at the ceiling, he wrestles to come up with a coherent thing to say. But beyond Cain looking very, very foolish, there are actually some interesting things going on here. The point that will be getting all the attention is where Cain says, "I do not agree with the way he handled it, for the following reasons — No, that's a different one. (Pauses) I gotta go back, see. (Pauses) Got all this stuff twirling around in my head." Yeah, apparently. Anyhow, just watch: The Libya engagement happened while Cain was already running for president -- it's not like he's being asked to take a position on the...

Is Mitt Romney Really the Smart One?

Steve Benen offers a provocative suggestion : maybe we shouldn't be thinking about Mitt Romney as the smart, informed one: For all the jokes about the clowns that make up this year's Republican presidential field, the conventional wisdom is flawed. Romney, we're told, is the "serious" one, in large part because he speaks in complete sentences, and isn't bad at pretending to be credible. Ultimately, though, Romney's efforts don’t change the fact that he's faking it — and those who understand the issues beyond a surface-level understanding surely realize the GOP frontrunner just doesn't know what he's talking about. If the weekend's foreign policy debate showed anything, it was that nearly all the Republican candidates are faking it when it comes to foreign affairs, but Steve lists a bunch of occasions on which Romney has said things that are just inane. So why is it that those instances haven't dented this image? He certainly benefits from his opponents: it's almost impossible to look...

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