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

On Not Creating Your Own Reality.

By now it seems pretty certain that President Obama and congressional Democrats will cave to Republicans and extend all the Bush tax cuts, even for billionaires. After all, as David Axelrod recently said, "We have to take the world as we find it." Compare that to the Bush aide who told Ron Suskind, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." But before the capitulation is made final, it's worth taking a moment to contemplate what might have been if the administration had decided not to accept the world as they found it, but instead created their own reality. What if instead of accepting that there would be a debate on whether to extend the Bush tax cuts, they had fashioned a new debate on the Obama...

Meet the New Congressmembers, Most of Whom You'll Never Hear From Again.

Today's New York Times takes up something I've been pointing out for a while, the fact that many of the newly elected Tea Partiers have no experience in elected office: But his perseverance intersected with incumbent disenchantment and now Mr. Schilling, who owns a pizza restaurant, is among roughly 35 incoming members of the House — and four new senators — who have never been elected to anything. "I'm a story that never should have happened," said Mr. Schilling, 46, soon to represent a giant squiggle of west Illinois. The new class of lawmakers will contain the highest number of members with no experience of elective office in decades, likely since 1948, when there were 44 such House members elected, according to Gary C. Jacobson, a professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, and probably above 1952, when there were 34 such members. In 1994, the last big citizen revolution led by Republicans, there were 30 political-novice House members elected. The...

Proof of Nothing.

In a post titled "Proof That Obamacare Sunk the Democrats—Even Though It Saved Their Souls" , William Galston attempts to show that health-care reform -- which he acknowledges was "morally correct" -- is what was behind the party's big loss. This isn't too surprising coming from Galston, a centrist to whom the media often turn for a reliable quote explaining how Democrats are being incredibly foolish by pursuing progressive policies. But his argument here is singularly unpersuasive: When asked an open-ended question about the factors that had the biggest influence on their votes, 17 percent of respondents named health care. Of those voters, 58 percent had an unfavorable view of the health-reform law, 58 percent thought it would make the country worse off, and 56 percent thought it would leave them and their families worse off. Not surprisingly, health care voters went for Republican over Democratic candidates by a margin of 59 percant to 35 percent. (Non health-care voters were...

Capitalists Are People.

What I mean by that headline is this: In Econ 101, you're taught that firms endeavor to maximize profits, coolly examining various options and always choosing what is best for the bottom line. But the truth is that companies, just like other organizations, are made up of people. And people often misunderstand things, ignore things, and act against their own interests when their personal beliefs and prejudices get in the way. Which brings us to this rather amazing Bloomberg article (via Kevin Drum ): Investors Show Obama No Respect in Poll as Profits Surge Investors around the world say President Barack Obama is bad for the bottom line, even though U.S. corporations are on track for the biggest earnings growth in 22 years and the stock market is headed for its best back-to- back annual gains since 2004. ... Investors are evenly split over their overall impression of the president, though 62 percent of those in the U.S. view him negatively. Worldwide, 63 percent of all respondents say...

The Tea Party and the 2012 Senate Races.

During the campaign, I predicted that the Tea Party would begin to fade away in 2011, as it got successfully co-opted by congressional Republicans, then divided by the 2012 Republican presidential primary (with its members split among the contenders). But now I'm starting to wonder. Any political movement is invigorated by its conflicts, and there will be some opportunities for the Tea Party to keep its anger train running. In fact, the best opportunity may be the 2012 Senate races. As this election showed, there are two things that can get you a primary challenge from the right: a general lack of fealty to conservative ideology, or even a moment's lapse in partisanship, say by co-sponsoring a bill with a Democrat. There are 10 Republican seats that will be up in 2012. Let's look at who they are: John Kyl (AZ): 2 John Barrasso (WY): 4 John Ensign (NV): 5 Roger Wicker (MS): 22 Orrin Hatch (UT): 24 Bob Corker (TN): 26 Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX): 28 Richard Lugar (IN): 34 Scott Brown (MA...

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