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

GOP Still All-Or-Nothing on Health Care.

You may recall that longtime conservative advocate and former Bush II speechwriter David Frum was excommunicated from the conservative movement after he suggested that implacably opposing the Affordable Care Act was strategically misguided (he argued that the GOP would have been better served by negotiating to make the bill more conservative). Frum landed on his feet , and now has some more advice for his fellow conservatives on health care. Once their silly theatrical presentation on repealing the ACA is done, Frum writes , they ought to try doing some things to improve the law: If Republicans cannot repeal the healthcare law, and they cannot, they should fight at least to make that law’s costs as visible as possible. How about a health care VAT? Every time you go to the store, you'd pay the full cost of health care subsidies, right up front, where nobody can miss them. Suddenly that abstract talking point in the president's speeches — the one about spending 17 percent of national...

Fix the DMV, Raise Trust in Government.

Every day, we interact with government in multiple ways, most of which are invisible. Because of that, we don't give it much credit. I'll bet you've never driven to the supermarket, gotten out of your car, and said, "Wow -- it would have taken me a heck of a lot longer to get here if there wasn't a paved road to drive on. Thanks, government!" Or settled into bed at the end of the day and said, "I sure am glad none of my kids was poisoned by tainted meat today. Thanks, government!" Unfortunately, when we interact with government in a visible way, it's a lot more likely to be unpleasant. As an example, Keith Humphreys relates his DMV horror story , and it's painful. You may have experienced something similar. At the very least, chances are that your DMV experience has been less than a joy. It may be that California's system is, at the moment, particularly horrible. My last experience with a DMV was actually pretty good -- they had a person at the front whose job it was to ask you what...

Winning by Not Losing.

Ed Kilgore warns Democrats to get ready for a long stretch of misery ahead: "Even if Obama wins reelection by a comfortable margin, it’s most likely that the House will remain in Republican hands and Democrats will lose seats in, and perhaps control of, the Senate—and beyond that, Republicans will probably do fairly well in 2014. In other words, we could be looking not at two years of damage control, but six." True -- it won't be easy to take back the House, and Democrats will be defending 23 of the 33 Senate seats contested in 2012, meaning they could win most of them and still lose control of the chamber. It's worth noting, then, that negative accomplishment can still be meaningful. Stopping Republicans from doing the things they want may not get you a triumphant signing ceremony, but the effects on people's lives can be just as profound. Imagine if you could go back in time and stop George W. Bush 's tax cuts or the war in Iraq. That'd be something. And if Democrats successfully...

Term Limits for Columnists?

Brendan Nyhan asks whether we shouldn't have term limits for columnists, which is what most of us probably think about columnists we don't care for. Do people still read Richard Cohen and say, "That really gives me a new perspective on things"? Or maybe the question is, "Do people still read Richard Cohen?" Thing is, they probably do. Even at a time when it isn't exactly difficult to find opinions, having a column in a big newspaper still makes you a big deal. Despite the decline of newspapers, there's been little decline in the influence of the likes of Tom Friedman or Charles Krauthammer (I explored this a year ago in an article for the print magazine). But the question of whether we really need opinion columnists at all is worth asking. As a practitioner of this particular craft, I'd like to think that my column profoundly shapes the worldviews of thousands of people who are not actually my mother, but it's hard to know for sure. I have been surprised, however, by the fact that I'...

A Feature, Not a Bug!

To follow up on what Jamelle says below, I think it would be an excellent idea for Barack Obama to start praising conservatives, precisely because it would alienate them from their fellows. There's little point in giving a shout-out to those who are actually working with him in good faith. When they inevitably get purged from the movement for winning the praise of a man that many conservatives believe is intentionally trying to destroy America, the right will merely get a bit more conservative, continuing a trend it's been on for some time. But what if Obama sowed confusion and suspicion among his opponents by praising not the moderates but some of their most stalwart members? He could do it, furthermore, with the subtle insinuation that the target has been working with him all along. "I want to give a special mention to Jim DeMint , who has been really helpful -- oh wait, I've said too much." The results could be dramatic. I'm kidding, of course (sort of). But it's true not just that...

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