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

Please Remain Calm.

For years, hawks have tried to convince us that terrorists, whether affiliated with al-Qaeda or anyone else, are brilliant masterminds of evil with infinite resources who could kill us all at any moment. But once again, we see that actual terrorists tend to be remarkably incompetent. Whoever the guy who tried to blow up an SUV in Times Square was (and there is no evidence yet that he was affiliated with anyone), his knowledge of explosives seems to be about that of the typical sixth-grader. Propane tanks, gasoline canisters, some non-explosive fertilizer (he apparently thought all fertilizer could explode), and firecrackers. Firecrackers? As The New York times put it , "Investigators believed that the fuses on the firecrackers had been lighted, but they did not explode, officials said. The burning fuses apparently ignited a portion of the Pathfinder’s interior, causing a small fire that filled the inside with smoke, one law enforcement official said." That's some real super-villain...

The Latest in Judicial Activism

We all have a tendency to assume that people we don't like have sinister motives underlying their words and actions, and people we do like have good motives. When you're trying to determine what a politician meant when he or she said something that struck you as potentially objectionable, your overall view of them is going to have a lot to do with what conclusion you come to. I bring this up as context for some criticism Barack Obama is getting over a comment he made discussing the idea of "judicial activism." Let's start with what he actually said: THE PRESIDENT: Well, I mean, here’s what I will say. It used to be that the notion of an activist judge was somebody who ignored the will of Congress, ignored democratic processes, and tried to impose judicial solutions on problems instead of letting the process work itself through politically. And in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the feeling was, is that liberals were guilty of that kind of approach. What you’re now seeing, I think, is a...

Hey You Non-White Kids, Get Off of My Lawn.

I've often noted that the changing geographic distribution of immigrants has a lot to do with the "I want my country back!" sentiment that has become so visible in recent months. At one time, if you lived in a suburb or a small town, you were unlikely to encounter people speaking a language other than English very often, if at all. Now that people all over the country see immigrants in their communities, many feel as though something has been taken from them. But William Frey of the Brookings Institution (via Andrew Sullivan ) points us to a fascinating piece of data that brings more depth to this picture. The ferment in Arizona, he explains, might have something to do with the fact that "the state’s swift Hispanic growth has been concentrated in young adults and children, creating a 'cultural generation gap' with largely white baby boomers and older populations, the same demographic that predominates in the recent Tea Party protests." Arizona has the largest gap of any state between...

Grumbling in the White House Press Corps

President Obama with reporters in happier times (White House/Pete Souza) Politico has an interesting piece up about displeasure within the White House press corps, which feels that it has been mistreated by the administration's press operation. Some of the complaints aren't particularly meaningful (Favoritism toward The New York Times , which sets the agenda for the whole media world? Shocking!). Others, however, are more troubling -- like the assertion that the White House retaliates against reporters who write things it doesn't like, with angry calls and e-mails and the occasional call to the reporter's editor. That's the kind of thing reporters rightly condemned George W. Bush 's White House for (see this ahead-of-its-time Prospect article by Nicholas Confessore ). It's also something that matters a lot more to the public than whether the president is spending enough of his time schmoozing with reporters (which makes them feel important and gives them more quotes for their stories...

Today In Church-State News.

Item No. 1 : The Supreme Court ruled that a cross erected on federal land in the Mojave Desert to honor war dead from World War I can stay. Item No. 2 : Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell , fresh from his Confederate History Month debacle, sought to reach out to people not like him by reversing a policy instructing state police chaplains to offer only nonsectarian prayers at department-sponsored events. Now, the chaplains will be able to talk all they want about Jesus at these official events, making clear to everyone just who the state believes is the one true god. What ties these two pieces of news together is the common belief among those not just in the numerical majority, but also in a position of dominance, that forcing everybody to live by rules and customs that privilege your particular perspective is just the natural thing to do. When the Court heard the Mojave cross case, justice Antonin Scalia was amazed that anyone could think a cross was particularly Christian -- he felt it just...

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