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

Theater in the Least Deliberative Body.

As the lame-duck session of Congress nears its end, there are a few big agenda items looming. The House has to approve the tax compromise, and the Senate has the new START treaty with Russia and the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays from serving honestly. Members of the Senate are now beating their breasts about whether there's "enough time" to do both. This is despite the fact that it has already been established that both the treaty and DADT repeal have enough votes to pass. Granted, there are some procedural things that have to happen. But there's plenty of time to get all those in. What some senators are worried about is whether there's enough time for debate. According to TPM, if there's only time enough for one of the bills in the Senate, the White House prefers it to be the ratification of START. But this is all premised on the idea that there is some amount of "debate" in the Senate that is sufficient, and if the time allotted for that "...

A Racial Map of Your Neighborhood.

Matt Ygesias pointed to The New York Times ' extraordinary interactive block-by-block census map , and I have to second his judgment of its awesomeness. You should really take a look at your city to see what it looks like. You can go anywhere in America. Since Matt made a point about D.C., I'll give you a picture of a place I used to live, Philadelphia: The green dots are whites, the blue dots are blacks, the yellow dots are Hispanics, and the red dots are Asians. What's extraordinary is how you can find places where one street creates a crisp dividing line, with one group on one side and another on the other. See that diverse area to the left of the "P" in Philadelphia? That's University City, where Penn is. But keep going west and you're quickly in West Philly, almost entirely black. Go the other direction, and you're in Center City, mostly white. Head south past South Street on the west side of Center City, mostly black, with a growing Asian presence. But jump east across Broad...

Good Gotcha.

I've long been on record as a critic of a particular kind of gotcha played by many reporters, what we might call "The Russert." This is where the reporter reads the politician something he said some time in the past, or describes something he did some time in the past, and contrasts it with what he's saying or doing today, to charge him with hypocrisy. There's nothing illegitimate about pointing out a politician's hypocrisy, of course, and it's a good thing if politicians fear being called hypocrites. The problem with The Russert, particularly as it was practiced by Tim Russert himself, was that it seldom mattered whether the hypocrisy in question was consequential or not, and it also had no statute of limitations. It didn't matter how long ago the contradictory statement occurred, or what it was about; if you caught the politician contradicting himself, you got points for being "tough." But here's a good lesson in where it's completely legitimate to yell "J'accuse, hypocrite!" at...

The Oddly Unpopular Estate Tax.

In a former life I used to write polls as part of my job, and at one point, we decided to do a small test on the estate tax. The unpopularity of the tax is something of a mystery, since it's paid by only the richest heirs. As Kevin Drum says , "Polls routinely show that a substantial majority of people favor higher income taxes on the rich. But polls also show that a substantial majority of people favor repeal or reduction of the estate tax." At the time (this was back in 2000), I thought it might have to do with a misconception, namely that lots of people assumed that everyone who inherits anything has to pay the estate tax. So we did an experiment in a survey where we asked two versions of the question, one of which asked whether people thought the tax should be repealed, and the other of which explained that the tax was only paid by people who inherited a million dollars or more (or whatever the exemption was back then), then asked whether people thought it should be repealed. The...

Why Romney Needs Palin.

As we all know, Mitt Romney 's biggest problem in the 2012 Republican primaries is that conservatives don't trust him, given that he used to be a pro-choice moderate who got health coverage for Massachusetts' uninsured. His answer to this problem has been to run frantically to the right, staking out the most extreme position he can on any issue that comes up (his latest is an attack on lazy unemployed people). But the truth is this strategy is going to fail. What Mitt needs to understand is that voters don't make judgments based on checklists. If a true-blue conservative wants to choose his primary candidate based on ideological affinity, all the screamingly right-wing op-eds in the world won't make a difference. It's a feeling, an identification, a sense that the candidate is "one of us." And Mitt just ain't. He's going to have to find some other way to win them over. That isn't to say ideology doesn't matter -- Romney will have to convince them that he's conservative enough, passing...

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