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

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...

Do You Really Want Sarah Palin Endorsing You?

We've seen recently that Sarah Palin has the power to sprinkle her magical moose dust on a Republican primary candidate and take that candidate from also-ran to front-runner with a single Facebook endorsement. Nikki Haley , the likely next governor of South Carolina, is the most prominent example, but Palin has endorsed lots of candidates in this election year. But there's a downside to this: the general election. Ben Smith points us to this interesting poll from New Hampshire, where Palin endorsed Kelly Ayotte , the former attorney general, who will probably be facing Congressman Paul Hodes in the fall in the state's Senate race. Turns out that in at least one poll, when Palin endorsed Ayotte, her standing among moderate voters took a plunge : Most of the movement both in feelings about Ayotte and in the horse race has come with moderate voters. Moderates make up the largest bloc of the New Hampshire electorate at 47%, and [Democrat Paul] Hodes' lead with them has expanded from just...

Yes, I Miss George W. Bush.

Lately, some Republicans have been saying with a smirk that pretty soon people are going to start missing George W. Bush . They mean that will happen because of the socialist nightmare Barack Obama has turned America into, of course. But we may start missing Bush for quite the opposite reason: because today's Republicans are making him look better and better. Goodness knows, I figured I'd be the last person to be throwing compliments at W. But as this letter to Talking Points Memo reminds us, Bush actually went out of his way to repeat that America was not at war with Islam as a whole, only with certain radical elements engaged in terrorism. It seemed like the most obvious thing in the world -- first, because it's plainly true, and second, because the idea that America is at war with Islam is exactly what al-Qaeda wants people to believe. It's central to their recruiting efforts. Right after September 11, Bush got criticized for calling the fight against terrorism a "crusade." It was...

Who's the Extremist?

As a progressive, I tend to think the Republican Party is much more ideologically extreme than the Democratic Party. There are many reasons, some of which may be more legitimate than others. But it turns out that my opinion isn't representative. According to this research from the Pew Research Center, the typical Democrat thinks the GOP is kind of conservative, while the typical Republican thinks the Democratic Party is really, really liberal. This isn't something new -- as one influential study put it in 1985, "Liberals do not like conservatives; however, they do not dislike them nearly as much as conservatives dislike liberals." But you can really see it in this picture: It's a little fuzzy, but if you look at the dark brown dots, you see that people of all stripes put the Republican Party at pretty much the same place -- somewhere between "moderate" and "conservative." But if you look at the gray dots, you see that Democrats think the Democratic Party is kind of moderate,...

Pages