Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. 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

Why Are America's Racist Political Ads So Crappy?

If you've been on the internet in the last day or so, you've no doubt seen discussion of Congressman Pete Hoekstra's ridiculous ad in which a young Asian woman with a straw hat around her neck rolls up on her bike next to a rice paddy and talks about incumbent Democratic senator Debbie Stabenow in broken English: "Debbie spend so much American money, you borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good." And so on, including bestowing the nickname "Debbie Spenditnow" on the senator. Zing! Yes, of course it's absurdly racist, trying to get Michigan voters to fear the yellow menace. But my problem is this: does it have to be so amateurish? First off, there's the fact that the ad appears to be set in...Vietnam. At least that's what Americans think when they see rice paddies and conical straw hats. And most egregious is the fact that the actress in the ad is obviously American. She doesn't have a noticeably regional accent - she could be from Michigan, or Los...

Another Kind of Mandate

You have to feel for the genuine policy wonks at a place like the Heritage Foundation. On one hand, they want to conduct their research with integrity. On the other hand, they work at an organization where the line between being ideological and being partisan is always fuzzy. Take the individual health-insurance mandate, an idea that had its origins at Heritage, where it started as a way to address some of the pathologies of the health-insurance market without relying on government-provided insurance. For years, this was seen as a conservative approach, which is one of the reasons Mitt Romney embraced it in his Massachusetts health-insurance reform. We all know the rest of the story: a similar mandate became part of the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans immediately decided that the fact that Obama used it now meant the mandate was the very essence of statist oppression. So opposition to the mandate became a partisan requirement. But what if you're a conservative health-care wonk (...

Mitt Romney's Daddy Issues

http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/
It isn't easy getting a read on what motivates Mitt Romney. He's always polished and prepped, his square jaw firmly in place and every word carefully planned and delivered as though it were part of a 57-slide PowerPoint presentation. He married his high school sweetheart and raised a gaggle of strapping boys, not a rebellious one among them (so far as we can see, anyway). He has no visible vices. When he's frustrated he gives a fake laugh. He never seems to get sad or angry. In short, it's hard to discern what turns the wheels inside him. But those who try are homing on Romney's relationship with his father George Romney, car company CEO, governor of Michigan, and failed presidential candidate. And two of the smartest commentators around, Rick Perlstein and Michael Tomasky, have come to the same conclusion about the relationship of Mitt's political choices to what he saw happen to George's political career, and his presidential bid in particular. Here's Perlstein describing the kind...

Forgive Mitt His Gaffes. Sort Of.

Flickr/Donkey Hotey
For a guy who is widely known as disciplined and methodical, Mitt Romney sure does utter a lot of gaffes. And I use the term "gaffe" not in the Michael Kinsley sense (when a politician inadvertently tells the truth), but in the sense of a statement that reinforces the supposed character flaw reporters have identified as the candidate's Achilles' Heel, whether the prevailing interpretation was actually what the candidate was trying to say or not. Romney can barely go a week without uttering some awful statement that makes his aides wince as it shows him to be just the patrician, out-of-touch capitalist overlord his opponents paint him to be (I listed a bunch here ). Since I'm on record arguing that gaffes almost never actually reveal anything new about a candidate, I suppose I should be defending Romney right now, since he has spent the last day being pummeled for saying, "I'm not concerned about the very poor," since "we have a safety net there." Mitt just makes it so hard. I'll give...

If Romney Loses in November, Will the GOP Move to the Center?

It's not too early to start speculating about what a Mitt Romney loss in November will do to the Republican party, a charge the New Yorker 's George Packer takes up . Will they move to the center or to the right? The simple answer is, of course they'll move to the right. That's what they do. But in this case, the simple answer is probably the right one. Packer points to 1972, when the Democrats nominated the most liberal guy they could find, George McGovern, and were pushed by this loss to move to the center. If the Republicans were to nominate the guy they now perceive as the real conservative (Newt Gingrich) and lose big, then something similar might happen. But since they're actually going to nominate the guy they think of as a moderate, they'll naturally conclude that less moderation is what they need. As Ezra Klein says : "You can write the post-mortem now: ' Of course America wasn't going to vote for a liberal Republican from Massachusetts who had passed the country's first...

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