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

Holy Crap, Newt Gingrich Might Actually Be the Republican Nominee

When an election is some time away, pollsters typically ask people, "If the election were held today, who would you vote for?" It often seems like a silly question, because of course the election isn't today. But eventually, today comes. We imagine that up until the election, people's beliefs about the candidates are unformed and not held with much conviction. But as Election Day approaches, those beliefs harden, to finally come to fruition in the vote. And for some people that's true. But for many others, even the decision they finally make on Election Day could be different if the election were moved back a couple of weeks. Which is why it's now entirely possible that Newt Gingrich, possibly the most repellent, unelectable political figure America has seen in the last couple of decades, could actually be the Republican nominee for president. Think of a Republican-base voter—let's call her Gladys. At first, Gladys had no idea whom she supported. Then Donald Trump played with getting...

He Lied/She Lied

PolitiFact, which has become the premier fact-checking entity in American journalism, just announced its nominees for its annual "Lie of the Year" award. This is, of course, a gimmick designed to bring more attention to the group's work. There's nothing wrong with that—lots of organizations do similar things. But because PolitiFact has built a good reputation among journalists (not unchallenged, though—it's been criticized by both the right and the left at various times, and some of those criticisms have been valid), it has a good deal at stake in making sure its "Lie of the Year" is as persuasive as possible. In other words, the decision will be political. There's just no way to avoid it. So here's my prediction: It's going to pick a "lie" told by Democrats, even if the one it picks is far from the most egregious lie told this year, or even really a lie at all. This is the third time PolitiFact has declared a "Lie of the Year." The first , in 2009, was Sarah Palin's "death panel" lie...

Let Elections Be Elections Again

Presidential primary campaigns used to have a predictable script, one that went as follows. Before anyone started campaigning, journalists declared one candidate to be the early front-runner, based on his standing within "the establishment," that shadowy group of party insiders whose string-pulling power, attenuated though it might be, still exists. This candidate was often a sitting or former vice president (George H.W. Bush in 1988, Al Gore in 2000) or had run before and fallen short (Bob Dole in 1996, John McCain in 2008). If no such person could be found, the candidate who looked strongest on paper could be a reasonable substitution (George W. Bush in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, Hillary Clinton in 2008). Once the front-runner was in place, the search would begin for the challenger, the dynamic candidate who could break from the pack of nobodies to make it a two-person contest. This candidate was usually the one offering "new ideas" and "fresh thinking" in contrast to the staid and...

Gingrich's Profound Insight On Poverty

One thing every politician is supposed to display is empathy, the ability to put oneself in the place of others and see things from their perspective. Empathy is a habit of mind, but it's also a product of experience. It's hard to see things from another's perspective if you know absolutely nothing about their lives. But even if you have no direct experience, if you have the proper habit of mind you can at least take whatever information you've gleaned and make some attempt to understand people. Keeping that in mind, I give you Newt Gingrich, talking about why he thinks child labor laws ought to be done away with so we can start putting kids to work as janitors and such: "Really poor children, in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day, they have no habit of I do this and you give me cash unless it's illegal." Read that again. Newt believes...

The Anti-Newt Campaign Begins

It was only a matter of time before one of the Republican candidates unloaded on Newt Gingrich, attacking him with all (or at least some) of the reasons rank-and-file Republican voters ought to dislike him. So who was it: Mitt Romney, the man most threatened by Gingrich's rise? Rick Perry, looking to crawl back into the race? Herman Cain, in a last-ditch attempt to save his campaign? Michele Bachmann, hoping to win back the Tea Party voters who loved her for about 12 seconds a few months ago? Nope, none of them. Believe it or not, it was Ron Paul, who delivered 2 minutes and 28 seconds of hurt: The only thing the video doesn't have is an explicit mention of Gingrich's marital history, with its multiple infidelities and trading in of wives for younger mistresses. But most everything else is there, including the famous ad he made with Nancy Pelosi supporting action on climate change, his prior support of an individual health-insurance mandate, his criticism of the sainted Paul Ryan, and...

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