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

A Tea Party Backlash Within the GOP?

Is the Tea Party the new religious right? By which I mean, the grassroots group the GOP uses to mobilize voters, then once in office, keeps serving up symbolic expressions of love without much to show in the way of actual policy goodies, while hoping to keep the crazies under wraps. The fact is that the Republican establishment has always been a bit uncomfortable with the religious right, as much as they need them to win elections. And that establishment may become increasingly unsettled with the Tea Party. In today's Washington Post , Michael Gerson , former speechwriter for George W. Bush , unloads on the Tea Party, in terms its members will no doubt find elitist: "In the normal course of events, political movements begin as intellectual arguments, often conducted for years in serious books and journals. To study the Tea Party movement, future scholars will sift through the collected tweets of Sarah Palin ." Oh, snap! He also criticizes them for not understanding the history they...

Bloggers, Taxes, and City Budgets.

You may have heard about this crazy story from Philadelphia, in which the city is sending letters to bloggers, demanding that they pay a $300 "business privilege tax" because of their income from blogging. This rang a chord with me, because a few years ago, long after I had moved to D.C., I got a letter from the city of Philadelphia informing me that I owed them money from my unpaid business privilege tax. This happened because I reported some modest royalty income from a book I had written while living in Philadelphia, and the city decided that by writing a book I was operating a business within the city, and therefore needed to pay a tax for the privilege. Needless to say, I thought this was an outrage of the highest order. So I feel these bloggers' pain. Generally speaking, I'm a fan of taxes (yeah, I said it!). Though nobody particularly likes paying them, and we can and should argue about how they should be best apportioned, any mature citizen ought to realize that we get some...

Chaff Production at All-Time High.

(Flickr/ Zawesome ) Paul Carr of Techcrunch makes a bold move (particularly for someone who writes for a tech blog) and shuts down all of his social media accounts except for Twitter. And yeah, that kind of defeats the purpose, but the reason for doing this is that he feels that he's been losing his posterity: social media, particularly Twitter, has made his public thoughtstream an endless river of decontextualized, purposeless trivia: "I am learning a lot about pens." reads one update from last year. What does that even mean? "Ok, that's quite enough of all this. I'm going out", reads another. Enough of all what? And where was I going? Of course, the fact that I'm a particularly boring tweeter doesn't help, but look at anyone's Twitter account and it's the same story – 140 characters simply doesn't give enough depth or breadth to commit events, memories or feelings to the permanent record. I'd argue that the problem isn't that we don't know what he had had enough of on that day, or...

The Joke's on Us?

Our current political leadership just isn't all that funny.

George W. Bush (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)
Stop me if you've heard this one: Barack Obama and Joe Biden walk into a bar ... have a drink, shake some hands, and leave. Not laughing? Well, our current political leadership just isn't all that funny. It's not just the Democrats -- have you heard any good Mitch McConnell jokes lately? Granted, John Boehner has that orange tan, which is always good for a laugh. But apart from Sarah Palin, who sometimes seems to be doing a subtle yet devastatingly vicious impression of herself, today's top politicians don't offer comedians a particularly target-rich environment. When Obama won the 2008 election, a lot of people predicted that all the comedians who had been making fun of George W. Bush would be at a loss for jokes. There was an assumption that since they're a bunch of liberals, the comedians wouldn't go after Obama. But if comedy has an Obama problem, it doesn't have much to do with ideology. The guy is just difficult to mock. Politicians who make good targets for humor tend to have a...

Return of the Hard Hats.

When I opened my copy of The New York Times this morning, I saw this photo , in which a bunch of burly looking guys in hard hats are protesting the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. Hard hats -- now where have we seen that before? Well, we saw it during the 1960s, when the Nixon administration saw electoral gold in pictures of construction workers in hard hats beating up hippies, demonstrating that the working man was on the side of the Republican Party against the unruly, effeminate elitists of the anti-war movement. And we saw it in 2001, as conservatives looked to hard hats to help create the illusion of blue-collar support for George W. Bush's tax-cut plan, whose benefits went mostly to the wealthy: [The National Association of Manufacturers], which pushed for yesterday's passage of President Bush's proposal to reduce income tax rates, circulated a memo among business groups this week urging lobbyists to show up in full force at the photo opportunity. And it urged them to be "...

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