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

Expressions of Faith

Public discussion of religion can build walls at the same time it tries to bring them down.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at a memorial service in Tucson, Ariz.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In his speech last week at the memorial service for the victims of the shooting in Tucson, Barack Obama implored Americans "to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together." It was a welcome message. In the days since, we've had conversations about whether we're cultivating that empathy, whether we're being respectful toward each other, and how we avoid reverting to our prior state of vituperation and acrimony. One has to be awfully optimistic to think that will happen, but we can nevertheless seize this brief moment of comity to contemplate some issues that may have lain silent for some time. As I watched Obama's speech, I was struck by how religious it was, with quotations from the Old Testament and numerous mentions of God and heaven. Before we proceed, let me be clear: It was neither surprising nor inappropriate for the setting and the...

The Presidency Is a Job.

I'm no fan of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- he seems to have become a conservative star for no other reason than he's kind of a bully, and as of yet he has not actually done much of note other than yell at teachers. But this, from an interview on Fox News Sunday , was certainly unusual: WALLACE : You don't think you could help more in the White House than in the state house? CHRISTIE : No, I don't think I can help New Jersey more in the White House than I can help it in the state house. And secondly, you have got to believe in your heart that you're personally ready to be president, and I'm not there. WALLACE : Why not? I mean, seriously. You say you answer the questions. In what way are you not ready to be president? CHRISTIE : Listen, I think every year you have as a governor in an executive position in a big state like New Jersey would make you better prepared to be president. And after one year as governor, I am not arrogant enough to believe that after one year as governor of...

Context Is Everything.

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling tells us that Kay Bailey Hutchison was probably toast, had she decided to run again (via Jon Chait ): Hutchison's approval rating with Republicans on our last Texas poll was just 58%. To put that number into some perspective Lisa Murkowski 's approval with Republicans in January of 2010 was 77% and Mike Castle 's in March of 2009 was 69%. They both started out in a much better position against their Tea Party opposition than Hutchison would have, and they both lost anyway. A poll we conducted in September of 2010 found that only 25% of Republicans in Texas would support Hutchison for renomination to 62% who preferred a 'more conservative' challenger. It's doubtful Hutchison really would have lost by that sort of margin, but she certainly would have been in deep, deep trouble had a Tea Party challenger emerged. Jensen goes on to say that "there is pretty much no Republican incumbent immune to a challenge from the right these days," and he's...

The Scourge of the Second Space.

One of the benefits of blogging is that those of us who have a deep-seated need to force our opinions on other people have a ready forum to do so, and not merely on matters of national import. This includes inveighing against our own pet peeves. For instance, a few months ago I scolded America for the profligate use of the phrase "I could care less," when what people mean when they say that is precisely the opposite, "I couldn't care less." And today, I have to applaud Slate's Farhad Manjoo for taking on the use of two spaces after a period: Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It's one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men's shirt buttons on the right and women's on the left. Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period. (The...

Compromise for Thee, But Not for Me.

It's often said that a liberal is someone so reasonable he won't take his own side in an argument. At a time when we hear a lot about "the extremes on both sides," Gallup has some interesting poll results to show (via Jon Chait ): I've circled the key parts. You'll note that those who describe themselves as very liberal are no different from those who describe themselves as liberal or even moderate; they overwhelmingly favor compromise over sticking to your beliefs even if little gets done. It's the "very conservative" folks who are the outliers. The same is true if you divide the data by liberal/moderate Democrats and conservative/moderate Republicans. It's possible that conservatives view "getting things done" in Washington primarily as government action, while inaction is perfectly fine with them, since they're opposed to much of what government does. But one thing this does demonstrate is that for all the talk of the intransigent liberals willing, for instance, to reject health-...

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