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

Can the White House Turn John Boehner Into a Villain?

Lots of people noticed that in his speech in Cleveland earlier this week, President Obama mentioned House Minority Leader John Boehner eight times. This may or may not mean that turning Boehner into a villain is a key part of the White House's strategy going into the fall elections. But if it is, can it be successful? You might think, well, Boehner's not the most charming guy in the world, but he's not as repellent as, say, Newt Gingrich . But let's look at the numbers. There haven't been many polls testing people's feelings about Boehner, but one from Gallup in April found 29 percent with a favorable view of him, 32 percent with an unfavorable view, and 39 percent with no opinion either way. Frankly, it's surprising that 61 percent of the public claims to have an opinion about him, but this is the kind of thing polls tend to overstate -- people want to seem informed, and it doesn't really cost anything for a respondent to say "favorable" or "unfavorable" to the interviewer, when in...

Where Your Phone Comes From.

Chances are you're reading this on a computer or smartphone made by an American company, like Dell or HP or Apple. And chances are also that the machine was actually constructed in China. That relationship came to broader attention recently when Foxconn, a Chinese company that puts together iPhones, Sony Playstations, and Dell computers, among other things, experienced a number of suicides, with its workers hurling themselves off buildings, purportedly out of despair at their low pay and shabby working conditions. As part of their response, Foxconn hired the global PR behemoth Burson-Marsteller to help clean up their image, and as part of that effort, the company opened its doors to Business Week . The result is a fascinating article giving a glimpse into one of the emblematic cogs in today's global economy. The company employs 920,000 people, and its chairman, Terry Guo , is the richest man in Taiwan. Here's a taste: To understand how diversified Foxconn's supply chain is, pry the...

The Power of the Image.

If you watch network news, you've had the experience of watching as Brian, Katie, or Diane says, "Some dramatic video tonight from somewhere or other. Just watch as this cow is swept away by floodwaters, caroms off a stop sign, does a double-twisting backflip, then lands on all four hooves on the roof of an Arby's. Local officials report the cow is a bit shaken, but doing OK. Just amazing." Of course, it isn't "news" by any journalistic standard, but if they've got good video, they're going to use it. If you watch local news, somewhere around 20 percent of each night's broadcast is devoted to that kind of thing (and who doesn't love waterskiing squirrels, anyway?). But this weekend, the networks were getting a little skittish about whether to use some dramatic video they thought they were going to get. I speak, of course, about the aborted Quran-burning event down in Florida. The Associated Press has announced that it won't be putting out any pictures of the actual burning: Mr. Kent’s...

The New Obama and the Midterms.

One of the things that has always infuriated progressive activists about Barack Obama is his insistence on "reaching out" to Republicans, long after it becomes clear they're not interested in working with him. But as we came to understand very quickly, reaching out, even if only in his rhetoric, is just written into Obama's DNA. And even if it's only a political strategy -- presenting himself as the reasonable one, so that when bipartisanship fails he comes out looking like the good guy -- it's a strategy he's deeply invested in, and won't be giving up. But that isn't to say that Obama can't be seriously partisan when he wants to be. And his speech yesterday in Ohio marked the real beginning of the White House's 2010 election efforts. The speech was a partisan barn-burner, in which he mentioned John Boehner eight times. There are 53 days left before the election. That time is going to be a test both of Obama's willingness to hit Republicans and the degree to which a group of people...

Nation Demands Moral Leadership From Sarah Palin.

Talking Points Memo is rounding up comments of conservatives who are coming out against that Florida pastor's clever plan to commemorate September 11 by burning Qurans. What's remarkable about this is how tepid the comments are: So far today, Haley Barbour says it's not a "good idea." John Boehner says it's "unwise." And now honorary Republican Joe Lieberman says the church should "reconsider and drop their plans." Of course, there is a practical consideration here: As David Petraeus has said, Quran burning inflames Afghans and other Muslims against the U.S., reinforces the argument al-Qaeda makes that America is at war with Islam, and ultimately puts the lives of U.S. service members at greater risk. But all that aside, imagine for a moment it was a religious leader of a different faith who was planning to burn Bibles. Wouldn't political leaders be using somewhat stronger language? Not that this is "unwise" or that the nutcase responsible ought to "reconsider," but probably language...

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