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

Obama and Iraq.

Marc Ambinder reminds us of something in advance of President Obam a 's Oval Office speech: We forget how integral Sen. Barack Obama's decision to oppose the Iraq war was to his own political awakening, and how many contortions Hillary Clinton had to untwist in order to justify her own support for the war authority, and how, by the day of the general election, given the success of the surge (or the success of JSOC's counterterrorism efforts), Iraq was no longer a central voting issue. Voters seemed to exorcise that demon in 2006, when they voted Democrats into Congress. After the recession, and the election, and the health-care battle, and the rise of the Tea Party, the days when we spent all our time arguing about Iraq seem like they were decades ago. And it's safe to say that Iraq wasn't just central to Obama's political awakening, it was one of the half-dozen or so factors he couldn't have been elected without. You may recall that he was alone among the top candidates in having...

More Depressing Poll Results.

More from today's depressing poll results, from Newsweek we learn that not only do many Americans think Barack Obama is Muslim (24 percent in this one), but majorities of Republicans not only think Obama is favoring Muslims over other Americans, he's also sympathetic to al-Qaeda's goals. I made a couple of charts: Yes, that's right: Fully 52 percent of Republicans think Obama "sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world." Sigh. -- Paul Waldman

Whose Media Bias?

Progressives' attempt to reshape the media has had some successes, but the failures may be more instructive.

In this Aug. 24, 2004, photo, former Air America radio host Al Franken is seen during a news conference in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
When Air America finally shut its doors early this year, it wasn't front-page news. Plagued by mismanagement and multiple ownership changes, the progressive radio network had failed to turn its respectable ratings into profits, even though it made a U.S. senator out of its first marquee personality, Al Franken, and a television star out of its last, Rachel Maddow. When it finally went off the air, most of the people who were supposed to be its target audience probably didn't notice. Air America was part of a complex project the left began to undertake about a decade ago, one that involved millions of dollars and hundreds of activists, donors, strategists, scholars, and writers both inside Washington and around the country. It was no conspiracy -- its aims were declared publicly in every communication medium available: to duplicate conservatives' success in influencing the media. When this effort began in earnest after the 2000 election, progressives saw mainstream journalists cowed by...

Be All You Can Be, World Edition.

Gawker has given us a fascinating collection of military recruiting ads from around the world, and like much culture these days, they show a strong American influence while nevertheless retaining their local character. The Indian, French, and Australian ones essentially follow the American template: Join the military, and you will do a bunch of badass things yet also learn about computers and set yourself up for a great career once you're done (although the French soldier pauses from badassery long enough to make out with a beautiful girl -- hey, he's French -- and even hold his newborn baby). The Swedish one is highly weird, saying to Swedish girls, you can either go and be an au pair for a crazy American family, or you can drive a tank. But the most compelling ones have to be the British and Lebanese ads. The first half of the British ad seems to be saying, "Join the military, and you'll have heavily armed, extremely agitated foreigners yell at you in a language you don't understand...

They're With Stupid

Anti-intellectualism rears its head.

Sarah Palin (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Dwight Eisenhower once defined an intellectual as "a man who takes more words than are necessary to tell more than he knows." While Eisenhower was perfectly happy to have people mistake his lack of eloquence for a modest intelligence, he would never have gone so far as to proclaim himself proud to be dumb or uninformed. Yet there are some who seem tempted to do just that. Last month, Sarah Palin added to her growing body of fascinating public utterances by pleading with Muslims to "refudiate" the Islamic center planned for near Ground Zero in New York (it turned out it wasn't the first time she had used the word). Eventually, the Weekly Standard , one of the chief organs of the intellectual right, began selling T-shirts and bumper stickers saying "Refudiate Obama" and "Refudiate socialism." We probably shouldn't make too much of this -- they're just having a bit of fun, after all. But embracing Palin in all her nincompoopery must, in the words of the former Alaska governor herself, "...

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