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

The GOP's New Race Problem.

A little blast from the past. The date on this story is July 14, 2005, just five years and a few days ago: It was called "the southern strategy," started under Richard M. Nixon in 1968, and described Republican efforts to use race as a wedge issue -- on matters such as desegregation and busing -- to appeal to white southern voters. Ken Mehlman , the Republican National Committee chairman, this morning will tell the NAACP national convention in Milwaukee that it was "wrong." "By the '70s and into the '80s and '90s, the Democratic Party solidified its gains in the African American community, and we Republicans did not effectively reach out," Mehlman says in his prepared text. "Some Republicans gave up on winning the African American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong." At the time, Mehlman undertook something of an apology tour, delivering that message to numerous...

An Opportunity for Tom Vilsack.

The case of Shirley Sherrod , which we along with everyone else have been writing about over the last 24 hours (just scroll down), is full of lessons -- about the danger for the mainstream media in relying on charlatans like Andrew Breitbart to be their assignment editors; about the right's growing obsession with "reverse racism" (and their understanding of how easy it is to get the press to chase stories with a racial tinge); about how right Eric Holder was when he said we're "a nation of cowards" when it comes to race, despite all our talk about it; about how so many Democrats haven't lost their reflex to flinch every time the right criticizes them. There's one other lesson here, one that Tom Vilsack and the White House can hopefully take away from this incident. Yes, we have a "24-hour news cycle" these days. And yes, good press relations requires moving quickly. But that doesn't mean you have to be a slave to speed. Being fast is important, but being fast and stupid is very, very...

Turned Off by the Crazies.

Doing Democrats a favor? (Flickr/ Fibonacci Blue ) Both Democrats and Republicans spend a good deal of time trying to convince the public that the crazier elements of the other party's coalition in fact constitute the very heart of that coalition. I've made the case plenty of times that the left's extremists (I tend to use "the trustafarian kid with the 'Free Mumia' sign" as a shorthand) are all but irrelevant to the Democratic Party, while the right's extremists are much more central to the Republican Party. But even if you disagree, the fact remains that both sides work hard to cast a light on the other side's unsavory elements. But does it work? I must confess that in recent months I've begun to doubt that all the "Look at how nuts they are!!!" really has much of an impact on your average (i.e. inattentive) independent voter, the one who doesn't already know whom she's voting for in 2010, 2012, and every election afterward. But perhaps there's hope after all. Yesterday, Kevin Drum...

Gut Check for the White House on Elizabeth Warren.

As President Obama decides whom to appoint to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a controversy is on its way about whether Elizabeth Warren -- the Harvard professor who currently is in charge of oversight of TARP, and who had the idea for the CFPB in the first place -- will get the nod. Liberals, who have been impressed with Warren's dogged advocacy on consumers' behalf, are getting geared up to be seriously pissed off at the administration if they appoint someone else. If you were a cynic, you might say that of course the White House will pick someone else, thereby offering a new opportunity to stick it to the left (and there's also the fact that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner apparently doesn't like Warren, as Tim has discussed ). But whatever the thinking at 1600 Pennsylvania is at the moment, Sen. Chris Dodd , the chairman of the Financial Services Committee, is expressing doubts that Warren is confirmable, meaning he thinks Republicans will be united in...

Falling Out of Love With Obama

The left is finding out that Obama is not the progressive they fell in love with.

President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Every presidency has its ups and downs. But this is one seriously rough period not only for the current inhabitant of the Oval Office but for the people who put him there. The economy continues to struggle along, with millions unemployed. There seems no way out of the mire of Afghanistan. The Gulf of Mexico is befouled and will be for years to come. Republican senators -- with the cooperation of a couple of Democrats who know no pleasure greater than screwing up their party's agenda -- have taken advantage of the chamber's legislative rules to make action all but impossible. And it looks like they will take back the House. Conservative interest groups like the National Rifle Association seem more powerful than ever; the lords of finance who nearly destroyed the global economy are raking in record profits after being saved by the taxpayers; and the Supreme Court's activist conservatives are on a tear, doing all they can to smooth the way for greater corporate influence. It is not a...

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