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

100 Percent Republicans.

Over at Slate , John Dickerson gets a pretty amazing statement out of Rep. Paul Ryan , the Republicans' supposed budget expert: Obama had said he could have done more to work with Republicans. Did the GOP share any of the blame? "No, it's all the Democrats' fault," Ryan said. "We're great. We have halos over our heads," he added sarcastically. "How do you want me to answer that?" he asked. I told him that truthfully would be fine. He seemed boxed-in. Even if he believed Republicans shared some blame, he couldn't admit it. "They had to make a decision," he said, referring to the president and Democratic leaders. "Do we work with these Republicans and do we meet in the middle? But we don't have to because we have all the votes. They made a choice to go it on their own, and that's when we had to protect ourselves." He said he tried to reach out to the White House early in the administration on a health care plan. "We sent a plan to the president, we sent them letters, we called people,...

The Fall of John McCain.

Not too long ago, John McCain was one of the most admired people in Washington. He was held in esteem by both Republicans and Democrats. His legion of admirers in the press painted a picture of a heroic figure working to clean up the political system, fighting against overwhelming odds, pushed on by courage and principle. But there was always another side to McCain. On a personal level, he was actually an enormous jerk, who could be petty, rude, and even cruel to those who got in his way (not for nothing was he once known as "Senator Hothead" ). He didn't really care much about policy. He was always more concerned with personal ambition and preening for the cameras than accomplishing anything. And over the last few years, McCain has fallen further than most politicians ever imagine they could. He ran an abysmal, losing campaign for president. He delivered Sarah Palin to the country. His sole meaningful legislative accomplishment in three decades in Congress -- the Bipartisan Campaign...

Piling On Palin.

In the 1997 sci-fi film "The Fifth Element," Earth is being approached by some menacing blob of evil, and the planet's military (brief digression: Have you ever noticed how sci-fi writers all seem to believe our future involves one world government?) decides, naturally, to fire some missiles at it. The blob not only absorbs the missiles but gets bigger, as though the puny earthlings' attempts to kill it have only made it stronger. Something similar may be happening with the Republican establishment and Sarah Palin , sort of anyway. Though her fellow candidates are all tiptoeing around her, probably because they want someday to gain her supporters, bigshot Republicans have been lining up to tell her not to run for president. You've got Ed Rollins , who ran Ronald Reagan 's 1984 re-election campaign, writing a piece headlined "Palin, I Knew Reagan. You're No Reagan," , in which he writes, "If you want to be an imitator of Ronald Reagan, go learn something about him and respect his...

Procedural Maneuvers in the Dark.

Imagine a basketball game in which each side had a phone-book-sized rule book, and every once in a while a player on the bench would pick up his head from the book and say, "Wait! It says here on page 845 that if four of our players hold their breath and hum 'It's a Small World After All,' then you have to take the next free throw standing on one foot with your eyes closed!" That's kind of what legislating in the U.S. Congress is like. It's governed by a spectacularly complex set of rules, including some that most of the participants have barely heard of or understand. Which brings us to today, when Democrats in the House used a procedural gambit to produce a vote on extending the tax cuts only for those below $250,000 of income, thus forcing Republicans to take a stand on whether they'll accept tax cuts for regular folks without tax cuts for rich folks. I'll let Brian Beutler explain : Brace yourself for some procedural jargon: Dems once believed they were faced with two mixed...

Budget Delusions.

Back in 1980, Ronald Reagan ran for president assuring people that he could balance the federal budget just by locating and purging all the "waste, fraud, and abuse" in federal spending. While there is certainly plenty of each, finding them never seems to have the magical effects everyone supposes. But it plays into the belief many Americans have that much of the budget is just unnecessary, and we could easily be rid of it. And if you ask them, it turns out people have some rather odd ideas about what's actually in the budget. The Program on International Policy Attitudes gives us some new data: Asked to estimate how much of the federal budget goes to foreign aid the median estimate is 25 percent. Asked how much they thought would be an "appropriate" percentage the median response is 10 percent. In fact just 1 percent of the federal budget goes to foreign aid. Even if one only includes the discretionary part of the federal budget, foreign aid represents only 2.6 percent. Think about...

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