Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger, and a contributing editor. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Exposing the Secret Socialist in the Oval Office

It's hard to be rational about a politician when you disagree with nearly everything he or she does. That's a problem that plagues all of us who comment on politics. But those of us who want to be honest try to keep the danger of losing our grip on reality in mind as we evaluate what happens day to day. One of the ways that danger manifests itself is in the way we deal with new evidence -- particularly that which might contradict the conclusions we've already come to. For instance, there was ample reason to conclude that Dick Cheney was a dark-hearted, sinister character with no trace of human feeling, based, among other things, on his apparent lust for war and torture. On the other hand, Cheney was (and remains) one of the only people in his party to favor marriage equality for gay people. Having a gay daughter -- a human relationship -- convinced him to extrapolate his personal affection into a belief in just public policy. How do you deal with that when making a general evaluation...

Gridlock Caused by Unidentifiable Forces.

The image at right is a screenshot of Yahoo News from this morning, with stories about the fact that a package of programs to boost small business was filibustered by Republicans in the Senate. You'll notice that while some of the stories make clear who actually killed this bill, many do not. The facts are clear: Democrats want to pass the package, and Republicans don't. Republicans filibustered. Democrats have been unable to overcome the Republican filibuster. But to read many of these articles, you'd barely be able to figure out that there's a difference between the parties on this question. Instead, what we get is a lot of passive-voice construction about procedural matters and a hamstrung institution. The clearest case may be this ABC News article , which says the bill "failed to overcome a procedural hurdle in the Senate" and that "the bill has languished in the Senate because of partisan gridlock." Needless to say, this is precisely the storyline Republicans want. They obstruct...

The Unfortunate Success of Sarah Palin's "Death Panel" Lie.

A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows support for the Affordable Care Act building, but it also shows some other interesting things, including this: On the other hand, large shares of seniors mistakenly believe the law includes provisions that cut some previously universal Medicare benefits and creates “death panels.” Half of seniors (50%) say the law will cut benefits that were previously provided to all people on Medicare, and more than a third (36%) incorrectly believe the law will “allow a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare.” Keep in mind that when it came to the "death panels," the press pretty much did its job. Not perfectly, by any means, but most of the time, when it was mentioned, reporters pointed out that the claim was, in fact, false. But let's also remember that in an act of cowardice, Democrats knuckled under and eliminated the provision that spawned the "death panel" lie, which would have reimbursed Medicare...

A New Day in Drug Sentencing. Sort Of.

As you might have heard, yesterday the House passed a bill addressing the inequities in sentencing between possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Yay! Oh wait ... It's never easy, politically, to lower criminal sentences. But a compromise earlier this year between Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions finally got the ball rolling. Their proposal, adopted today by the House, narrowed the gap between criminal penalties for crack and powder cocaine to 18 to 1 from the old 100 to 1 ratio... Well, that's progress, right? We should be thanking Jeff Sessions for acknowledging that someone convicted of possessing a drug used mostly by black people should only be punished 18 times as severely as someone convicted of possessing a functionally identical drug used mostly by white people. Just for a bit of context, consider that in last year alone, the NYPD conducted 574,304 "stop and frisk" greetings of New Yorkers. Fifty-five percent of the...

There's No Talking To Some People.

Jonathan Chait , in a post that proves his wisdom by linking to a prior post of mine, points us to this rather remarkable column by conservative radio host and columnist Dennis Prager , which is worth discussing. Prager argues that conservatives just don't have the same kind of dislike for their opponents that liberals do: Granting the exceptions that all generalizations allow for, conservatives believe that those on the left are wrong, while those on the left believe that those on the right are bad. Examples are innumerable. Howard Dean , the former head of theDemocratic party, said, “In contradistinction to the Republicans, Democrats don’t believe kids ought to go to bed hungry at night.” Rep. Alan Grayson (D., Fla.), among many similar comments, said, “I want to say a few words about what it means to be a Democrat. It’s very simple: We have a conscience.” Has any spokesman of the Republican party ever said anything analogous about Democrats’ not caring about the suffering of...

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