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

On Making Them Learn English.

One of the things immigration advocates always say these days when talking about comprehensive reform is that as part of a path to citizenship, we should "make them learn English." This is pretty good as a policy matter, since knowing English is only going to be a help to any immigrant, and the more smoothly immigrants can be woven into the economic and social fabric of the country, the better. But it's also driven by a political calculation -- "make them learn English" polls very well, and the reason is that a lot of the unease people have about immigrants comes from language differences (the tone of it also makes it seem like we're being punitive, or at least kicking them in the butt a little, which people like). One of the things you hear from opponents of immigration, on the other hand, is that today's immigrants "refuse to learn English" as they dilute our society with their foreign ways and foreign tongues. But is that really true? Via Sociological Images , sociologist Claude...

The Possible and the Impossible.

In the latest issue of Democracy , former TAP editor Michael Tomasky takes to task what he calls the "professional disgruntleists" -- progressives who work hard to find the downside of every Barack Obama initiative and use every available opportunity to cry, "See? I told you he'd sell us out!" Tomasky reminds us that even the great liberal hero Franklin Roosevelt was subject to similar criticism during his time: The New Deal was not a seamless narrative of aggressively liberal steps in which conservatives were sent scampering. It was full of starts and stops, and it took a long time. There were many reasons for this, but a chief one had to do with Roosevelt himself–seen by the more impatient reformers of his day as equivocal and adhering to too few core beliefs, exactly the way some see Obama today. It's not hard for progressives to ignore that history when lionizing FDR, for two reasons. First, it's really history. FDR died 65 years ago, and the number of people still around who were...

Why the World Cup Is Annoying You.

(Flickr/ Dundas Football Club ) We here at the Prospect have been remiss in blogging the World Cup, which in case you weren't aware, is a soccer tournament going on in South Africa. It's kind of a big deal. But if you have tuned in, chances are you've been annoyed as hell at the sound of tens of thousands of vuvuzelas -- those infernal horns every fan in the stands seems to wield -- droning non-stop for 90 minutes. The effect is something like sticking your head inside a bee's nest, which severely compromises your enjoyment of The Beautiful Game. So why is it so irritating? The New Scientist offers an informative Q&A that explains things. An excerpt: How do vuvuzelas make their sound? The vuvuzela is like a straightened trumpet and is played by blowing a raspberry into the mouthpiece. The player's lips open and close about 235 times a second, sending puffs of air down the tube, which excite resonance of the air in the conical bore. A single vuvuzela played by a decent trumpeter is...

The Business Platform

Contrary to current hype, business acumen and political acumen are two very different skill sets.

Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for California governor, speaks in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
"U.S. businessmen," lamented Time magazine in August 1956, "whether Democrats or Republicans, have a deep-seated aversion to political activity." These days, however, every election brings a new spate of CEO candidates, arguing that their know-how in the ways of commerce makes them far better suited for government service than people who actually have some experience at government service. This year is no different. In last week's primaries, Republicans nominated two corporate titans -- Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, and Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard -- as their candidates for governor and senator, respectively, from California. They join Linda McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, who is the GOP nominee for Senate in Connecticut. Their candidacies rest on two things: the copious amounts of cash each are willing to spend (Whitman has already dropped a remarkable $71 million of her own money into her campaign, before the general election has...

Palin Strangely Unpopular Among Iowa Republicans.

You thought it was too early for the 2012 presidential campaign to start? Worry not -- the Des Moines Register has a poll of the state's Republicans, testing their feelings about potential GOP nominees. They tell us that "62 percent of Republicans who identified themselves as likely to vote in this week's primary election are very or mostly favorable toward [ Mitt] Romney . [ Sarah] Palin follows, with 58 percent very or mostly favorable about her, with [ Newt] Gingrich at 56 percent." Nothing too alarming there -- before the campaign begins, it's mostly about name recognition. However, the story doesn't comment on the unfavorable numbers. Who wins there? Hands down, it's Palin: 39 percent of Iowa Republicans have an unfavorable view of her. This is somewhat surprising given that Iowa Republicans are a socially conservative bunch, and you'd think they'd be Palin's base. Two years ago they gave Rev. Mike Huckabee the win over Romney and the rest. Pat Robertson -- to whom God regularly...

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