Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Maybe We Should Stop Talking about Media "Bias"

The Pew Research Center is out with one of its big reports about news use and politics, and as usual there's a lot of interesting stuff there, if this happens to be your thing. I want to point to one result, about perceptions of "bias" in the news. On one level, it's about what you'd expect: Republicans see a lot of bias in the news, particularly with Tea Party Republicans. That's because they're the most intense partisans, and they've spent 30 years marinating in an ideology that puts their oppression at the hands of a vicious liberal media at its center. But when Pew asked whether respondents prefer "news sources that have no point of view" or sources that "share your point of view," everybody agreed: 65 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Democrats, and 71 percent of independents said that they liked sources that "have no point of view." Of course, there is no such thing as a news source that has no point of view. But it's pretty clear that to most people, "bias" means little...

Why Are America's Racist Political Ads So Crappy?

If you've been on the internet in the last day or so, you've no doubt seen discussion of Congressman Pete Hoekstra's ridiculous ad in which a young Asian woman with a straw hat around her neck rolls up on her bike next to a rice paddy and talks about incumbent Democratic senator Debbie Stabenow in broken English: "Debbie spend so much American money, you borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good." And so on, including bestowing the nickname "Debbie Spenditnow" on the senator. Zing! Yes, of course it's absurdly racist, trying to get Michigan voters to fear the yellow menace. But my problem is this: does it have to be so amateurish? First off, there's the fact that the ad appears to be set in...Vietnam. At least that's what Americans think when they see rice paddies and conical straw hats. And most egregious is the fact that the actress in the ad is obviously American. She doesn't have a noticeably regional accent - she could be from Michigan, or Los...

Another Kind of Mandate

You have to feel for the genuine policy wonks at a place like the Heritage Foundation. On one hand, they want to conduct their research with integrity. On the other hand, they work at an organization where the line between being ideological and being partisan is always fuzzy. Take the individual health-insurance mandate, an idea that had its origins at Heritage, where it started as a way to address some of the pathologies of the health-insurance market without relying on government-provided insurance. For years, this was seen as a conservative approach, which is one of the reasons Mitt Romney embraced it in his Massachusetts health-insurance reform. We all know the rest of the story: a similar mandate became part of the Affordable Care Act, and Republicans immediately decided that the fact that Obama used it now meant the mandate was the very essence of statist oppression. So opposition to the mandate became a partisan requirement. But what if you're a conservative health-care wonk (...

Mitt Romney's Daddy Issues

http://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/
It isn't easy getting a read on what motivates Mitt Romney. He's always polished and prepped, his square jaw firmly in place and every word carefully planned and delivered as though it were part of a 57-slide PowerPoint presentation. He married his high school sweetheart and raised a gaggle of strapping boys, not a rebellious one among them (so far as we can see, anyway). He has no visible vices. When he's frustrated he gives a fake laugh. He never seems to get sad or angry. In short, it's hard to discern what turns the wheels inside him. But those who try are homing on Romney's relationship with his father George Romney, car company CEO, governor of Michigan, and failed presidential candidate. And two of the smartest commentators around, Rick Perlstein and Michael Tomasky, have come to the same conclusion about the relationship of Mitt's political choices to what he saw happen to George's political career, and his presidential bid in particular. Here's Perlstein describing the kind...

Forgive Mitt His Gaffes. Sort Of.

Flickr/Donkey Hotey
For a guy who is widely known as disciplined and methodical, Mitt Romney sure does utter a lot of gaffes. And I use the term "gaffe" not in the Michael Kinsley sense (when a politician inadvertently tells the truth), but in the sense of a statement that reinforces the supposed character flaw reporters have identified as the candidate's Achilles' Heel, whether the prevailing interpretation was actually what the candidate was trying to say or not. Romney can barely go a week without uttering some awful statement that makes his aides wince as it shows him to be just the patrician, out-of-touch capitalist overlord his opponents paint him to be (I listed a bunch here ). Since I'm on record arguing that gaffes almost never actually reveal anything new about a candidate, I suppose I should be defending Romney right now, since he has spent the last day being pummeled for saying, "I'm not concerned about the very poor," since "we have a safety net there." Mitt just makes it so hard. I'll give...

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