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 Obama Analogy Trap

Is Kagan Obama's Harriet Miers? Is BP his Katrina? There's a reason these comparisons tell us so little.

President Obama keeps his eye on the long game. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)
In the couple of days between the arrival of that fateful Rolling Stone article and President Barack Obama's firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, one pundit after another asked if this would be Obama's "Truman-MacArthur moment." It was just the latest in a long line of historical analogies into which people attempted to fit Obama. While it would be hard to prove with any certainty, it does seem that this presidency has seen more historical analogizing than those of the past. Why is that? Before we answer that question, let's just run down a few of the comparisons. Is the BP oil spill Obama's Katrina? Is Elena Kagan his Harriet Miers? Was his recent Oval Office address his "malaise" speech? Did he have a "Mission Accomplished moment" on Iraq? In recent days, Fox News personalities in particular have compared Obama's actions to Iraq, September 11, Enron, "Heckuva job, Brownie," and even George W. Bush reading "The Pet Goat" while airplanes hit the Twin Towers (see a montage from The Daily...

What Can I Do to Put You in This Scam Today?

If you've been following the twisted path of financial reform, you may have heard that one controversial provision, exempting car dealers from oversight by the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, looks like it's going to be included in the final bill, despite the objections of both Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd, the two chairmen responsible for negotiating the final bill. President Obama too says he opposes the carve-out, but it won't stop him from signing the bill. It happened primarily because of an extraordinary lobbying effort put on by the nation's car dealers, who benefit from the fact that they have businesses in every congressional district in the country. But just what are they protecting by being exempted from oversight? One of the things they're protecting is the ability of some of them to essentially pull con jobs on our brave fighting men and women. You might be saying, "Huh?" But take a look at this extraordinary article from Mother Jones last year: One day...

If a Black Man Tells Me Obama Is Hitler, Then By God I'll Agree.

If Louie Gohmert were a former beauty queen, chances are he'd get a lot more face time on TV, and you'd have heard of him by now. But since he's looks like an accountant, the Republican from Texas who may be Congress' single dumbest member will have to keep plying his trade on the floor of the House. Via Dave Weigel , we see Gohmert endorsing syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell 's latest missive , which begins this way: "When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s..." You know what's coming - in this case it's Obama convincing BP to set aside a $20 billion escrow fund that proves that genocide is right around the corner. I know - the idea that Obama=Hitler is a profound thought that you haven't contemplated before, and its unusual insight shows why Sowell is one of America's most widely syndicated columnists. But what I actually want to point to is the way Gohmert begins his tribute to Sowell: "I didn't vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but I sure would have voted for...

Flurries Reported in Hell.

I was all ready to write a post noting the hypocrisy of conservatives who pilloried Barack Obama for sacking Stanley McChrystal for his insubordination, when those very same conservatives were fond of arguing that it was unconscionably anti-American for anyone, let alone a general, to criticize the commander in chief during a time of war, so long as that commander in chief was a Republican. But guess what happened? In looking around the right side of the web, I've seen some recycled criticism of Obama in general, but almost no one railing against the decision to give McChrystal the boot. There's even some actual praise . Take this post from National Review editor Rich Lowry , titled "Obama's Home Run": I'm not sure how Obama could have handled this any better. He was genuinely graceful about McChrystal and his explanation of why he had to go made perfect sense. He called for unity within his adminstration in pursuing the war and sounded quite stalwart about both the war and about the...

What Would Kissinger Do About Zombies?

A serious foreign-policy problem. (Flickr/ danhollisterduck ) A few months ago, I wrote a somewhat tongue-in-cheek column about how the zombie genre of movies, books, and video games is thriving, and how the genre reflects progressive values (that was the tongue-in-cheek part). It got more links than almost any column I've written. The lesson? People love zombies . If you're one of those people, you might want to check out this article from Foreign Policy magazine, in which Dan Drezner offers a primer on how advocates of different foreign-policy theories -- real politik, neo-conservatism, etc. -- would respond to a zombie apocalypse. "The specter of an uprising of reanimated corpses also poses a significant challenge to interpreters of international relations and the theories they use to understand the world," Drezner writes. "If the dead begin to rise from the grave and attack the living, what thinking would -- or should -- guide the human response? How would all those theories hold...

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