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

Haley's Way Out.

As you probably know by now, Haley Barbour -- governor of Mississippi, former chair of the RNC and tobacco lobbyist, and potential presidential candidate -- is in a whole heap of trouble over some comments he made in an article in the Weekly Standard, particularly concerning his odd assertion that in his town, the White Citizens Council (known colloquially as the "uptown Klan") was actually a force for racial justice, running the Klan out of town. Needless to say, this is absurdly false . I suppose it's possible, as Jon Chait suggested , that this whole thing will help Barbour by making him a martyr to liberal political correctness, thereby boosting his standing among Republican primary voters. As Adam pointed out , many conservatives consider white people being unfairly accused of racism to be a far more serious and common problem than actual racism. Some conservatives are indeed upset. Jim Geraghty at the National Review , for instance, wrote , "Any white Republican who grew up in...

You Ain't Got the Right.

Pat Buchanan has a predictably outraged column about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (via Conor Friedersdorf ), and in between the medley of culture war tropes ("San Francisco values...social experiment...homosexual lobby...1960s...elites...pseudo-intellectuals..."), he gives voice to what is no doubt a common sentiment on the right in the last couple of days: Remarkable. The least respected of American institutions, Congress, with an approval rating of 13 percent, is imposing its cultural and moral values on the most respected of American institutions, the U.S. military. Remarkable indeed. How dare Congress think it could impose its values on America! Who do they think they are -- lawmakers? I highlight this because it's becoming increasingly common to argue not just that a government policy or decision you don't like is wrong or misguided, but that the entity that made it lacked the right to do so . If a court renders a decision you didn't like, then it's "unelected judges" (...

Today's Newt Notes.

Yesterday's L.A. Times had an interesting article with a funny headline: " Newt Gingrich , serious this time, mulls a bid for president." As the piece notes, Newt has "mulled" a bid multiple times before, always pulling away at the point where he'd actually have to start putting together a campaign. But is this year different? Party professionals were impressed with the extent of his 2010 midterm election efforts. He traveled extensively to key states and donated to candidates through his political action committee. In the leadoff state of Iowa alone, he gave more than $100,000. Gingrich appears to have strengthened his political operation, which gives him the potential to finance and organize a campaign, even as he expands a personal conglomerate of think tanks, grass-roots organizations and a film production company run by Callista Gingrich , a former congressional aide who became his third wife in 2000. Those could the actions of a man committed to a presidential race. On the other...

The Private Option

The Affordable Care Act won't feel like a government program. That could be a problem for Democrats.

Residents of the Culpepper Garden Assisted Living Center attend a 2006 news conference about Medicare. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
When Congress was debating health care reform in 1993, conservative strategist Bill Kristol wrote a now-famous memo counseling Republicans that they must prevent the passage of reform, lest it "relegitimize middle-class dependence for 'security' on government spending and regulation … revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests … [and] strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government." The problem Kristol foresaw -- and today's Republicans saw with Barack Obama's health care reform -- was not merely that Americans would reward Democrats for the passage of a beneficial program, but that health care reform would bind them to government for all their lives, undermining the ideological case Republicans make. Many of those who supported the passage of the Affordable Care Act earlier this year (myself included) agreed. I wrote that once the bill passed,...

Politics v. Governing.

One of the common sentiments I'm seeing around today is, "Enjoy this last gasp of success, Democrats, because your life is about to get hellish." Which is true, in a way. But we should remember that the next two years will be uncomfortable politically , but far less so substantively . Yes, it's possible that Republicans could shut down the government, which will have some very bad effects. And they might be able to force cuts in vital programs, which would be bad. But I'll believe those things when I see them. More likely is that the bulk of their efforts will be on things that will embarrass President Obama and make it more difficult for him to win re-election. It will be nearly impossible, however, for Republicans to garner much in the way of real policy victories, in the sense of moving the government or the country in a more conservative direction. Anything they do achieve is likely to come courtesy of the five conservatives on the Supreme Court. Democrats, on the other hand, just...

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