Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. 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

Real Americans Losing Evolutionary Race to Fake Americans.

Less disease-ridden than you'd think. (Flickr/ TheDreamSky ) Many politicians, most notably Sarah Palin , portray those who live in small towns and rural areas as "real" Americans, while those who live in cities are presumably unreal, or not quite American. Well, those urban hipsters with their fixed-gear bikes and tolerance for diversity may be on to something. The New Scientist tells us that over thousands of years, urban living may have given rise to a gene sequence that provides protection from leprosy and tuberculosis: To test this idea, Thomas and colleagues analysed the DNA of people living in 12 regions in Europe, Asia and Africa. For each area, they combed the historical and anthropological records to work out when people first started living in close-knit groups. They found that the longer cities in the region had been established, the more likely it was that the current inhabitants carried the immunity allele. ... John Odling-Smee, an evolutionary anthropologist at the...

Tea Party Standard

All the talk of shaking up the establishment notwithstanding, once they take office the Tea Partiers will fit comfortably within the GOP.

(Flickr/dani0010)
When a new political movement emerges, it can follow a number of different courses after its moment of passionate intensity. It can lose its focus or relevance and fade into nothingness, like an anti-war movement when the war ends. It can become institutionalized, with professional organizations leading a cause that started from the grass roots, like the environmental movement has. Or it can be co-opted and absorbed by something larger. Now that the 2010 primaries are all but over, we can say with near certainty that the last -- co-optation -- will be the the Tea Party's fate. Indeed, it has already begun. But what effect will that absorption have on the larger conservative movement? Tea Partiers themselves would no doubt protest that they are here to stay as a unique and independent force. But think ahead, say 10 or 12 years from now. There's a Republican in the White House, and control of Congress is divided. The economy is doing reasonably well, neither fantastic nor awful. Can...

The Force Is Strong With Them.

When the Obama administration was deciding how to deal with the Elizabeth Warren question, they faced a lot of competing pressures. Progressives had become invested in Warren's appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency that exists because it was Warren's idea in the first place. Banks and Republicans, on the other hand, don't much like Warren, so there would be a fight over her appointment. And the White House obviously wasn't sure it wanted to have that fight. You can argue with the conclusion it came to -- making Warren an "assistant to the president," so she can oversee the establishment of the agency, while putting off the question of who will ultimately lead it for another day. But what's so remarkable is that there was even any question about whether, politically speaking, they should pick this fight with the other side. Because it should have been a no-brainer. Here you have a brilliant, folksy, compelling, charismatic figure, whose nomination would be...

The Opposite of Humble.

When attendees at last week's Values Voter Summit made Indiana Congressman Mike Pence the winner of their presidential straw poll, he wanted everyone to hear one message: I, Mike Pence, am a man of great humility. Not only that, his wife is humble too. "Karen and I are humbled by the results of today's straw poll," he said in a statement . "However, my focus remains on winning a conservative majority in the U.S. House in November." Since when did we decide that when you want to say "flattered," what you should say is "humbled"? Shouldn't that be a compliment someone else pays you, instead of a compliment you pay yourself? Why did him winning that straw poll make his wife feel more lowly? And wouldn't it have made more sense to say he was "humbled" if he came in last place? It was a familiar note for Pence. "I'm very humbled anytime we're mentioned in that regard," he told CBN's David Brody in July when the issue of a presidential run was raised, perhaps not realizing that the royal "...

Happy Koufax Day.

(Flickr/ rbglasson ) Over at The Atlantic , Alan Siegel reminds us that it was 45 years ago today (by the Jewish calendar, anyway) that Sandy Koufax decided that he was not going to pitch on Yom Kippur. His decision still resonates, particularly since we continue to fight about who counts as a real American. This was at a time when being Jewish was decidedly not cool, in the way it sort of is today (the phrase "Judeo-Christian heritage," including Jews in the American canon, hadn't yet been invented). Koufax's quiet stand wasn't even particularly religious -- he didn't go on and on about the meaning of Yom Kippur or anything (he wasn't all that observant). He just said that as a Jew, it wouldn't be right for him to play on this day. And in doing so, he made a powerful statement, one that every Jewish kid learns about with awe. Koufax's story tells those Jewish kids something important about America: Here, you don't have to hide who you are. Even if you sometimes feel like an outsider...

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