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

Smackdown 2012: Republican Establishment vs. Palin.

Back in 2003, when the Howard Dean campaign was building up extraordinary momentum and capturing the fascination of the press, in large part because it harnessed this new-fangled thing called "the Internet," a movement among establishment Democrats popped up to stop this interloper. It was thought that he was too brusque, his politics were too far left (not only had he opposed the Iraq War, which all of the other candidates had supported, he even signed a bill providing civil unions for gay people!), and if he won the Democratic nomination, he would surely go down to defeat. So they started attacking him, and some even went so far as to raise money and run ads in Iowa against him. David Frum, keying off an evisceration of Sarah Palin in The Weekly Standard of all places, sees something similar happening: Politicians love to present a narrative in which they and their band of outsiders battle an entrenched party establishment. In most cases, the stories are self-serving myths: party...

Why Goolsbee's Good.

Today brings us another of Austan Goolsbee's white-board presentations, this one about the GM turnaround: This combination of the current (a top White House aide in his shirtsleeves taping a web video) and the low-tech (a white board) is fairly compelling not merely because of the juxtaposition, or because of Goolsbee's smoldering charisma. It shows that he has a pretty good understanding of how to present data persuasively, at least in the first half of the video. Because creating data visualizations is so easy these days, we get both good and bad. There are oodles of tools out there that allow designers to create fascinating and informative visualizations, and an entire culture has grown up around data visualization. There are many sites that celebrate it -- see here , here , here , here , or here . On the other hand, many people don't realize that you don't actually have to use the default chart settings on Excel, which have brought the world enough ugly charts to reach to Pluto...

Olympia's Choice.

Let's say you're a moderate New England Republican senator, and you're up for re-election in 2012. What looks to be your biggest political problem? Well, looking at what just happened to some of your colleagues, you've got a strong incentive to avoid, or if that's not possible, overcome, a primary challenge. That means doing stuff like this : She was once considered the most likely Republican to vote for health care reform. Now, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) is joining scores of Republicans and conservatives in support of the Florida health care lawsuit's plaintiffs, challenging the Constitutionality of the law. Yesterday, she and 30 other Republicans signed an amicus brief in the case. You may remember the extraordinary amount of energy that Barack Obama and Harry Reid and Max Baucus put into courting Snowe during the health-care debate. She played footsie with them for months, always maintaining the idea -- which turned out to be fantasy -- that with the right combination of tweaks to...

Mitt's Mandate.

As you probably know by now, Republicans say they want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but when you start asking them about the ACA's provisions -- like a ban on exclusions for pre-existing conditions, or subsidies to small businesses -- they'll invariably say, "Well, we don't want to repeal that . Just the awful socialist parts. We'll put that back in once we 'repeal and replace.'" The thing they do want to repeal is the one unpopular provision, which is the individual mandate to carry insurance. Unfortunately, the whole thing doesn't work without the individual mandate, which brings everyone into the system. (This is particularly true of the ban on pre-existing conditions. Jettison the individual mandate but keep that ban, and every insurer in America would literally go out of business within a year or two.) How do we solve this problem? Matt Yglesias offers a way out, courtesy of Mitt Romney : Romney’s old idea of letting people "demonstrate that they can pay for their own...

Terrorism Conviction Supposedly Demonstrates Futility of Seeking Terrorism Convictions

Imagine that the government were prosecuting an alleged serial killer for a series of murders, and when the jury returned its verdict, it found him guilty of only one of the alleged crimes. Your response would probably be, well, it would have been better if they had enough evidence on the other crimes, but in the end, they got the guy, and the conviction will be enough to keep him in prison for life. So you'd probably be surprised if the headlines the next day read, "Serial Killer Acquitted of All But One Charge; Verdict Calls Into Question Government Strategy of Using Courts to Try Murderers." But that's what just happened with the case of Ahmed Ghailani , who was implicated in the 1998 Kenya embassy bombing. While the government hoped to convict him of the murders of everyone who died, the jury ended up returning a guilty verdict only on one conspiracy charge. This may have had something to do with the exclusion of evidence that was produced when Ghailani was tortured. Nevertheless...

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