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

Palin 2016!

Over at the Atlantic , Josh Green and Andrew Sullivan are having something of a feud, complete with not-so-restrained insults, about the question of whether Sarah Palin will run for president in 2012 -- Josh says no , Andrew says yes . There are reasonable cases to be made on each side, but I'm in leaning Josh's direction. I'll admit that I find Palin to be a fascinating political figure, not least because of the fact that someone of such modest intelligence, experience, and overall political gifts can nonetheless manage to, well, make so many people fascinated with her. Let's put aside for the moment the terrifying implications of a Palin presidency. Could she actually do it? To answer, you have to look first at what it would take to succeed at it. Running a successful presidential campaign is incredibly difficult, and dozens of smart, talented, motivated people have tried to do it and failed miserably. You need a combination of political dexterity, judgment, knowledge, and vision...

Ukrainian C-SPAN Is Much Livelier Than Ours.

We live, it is said, in an era of angry political polarization. Yet if you watch congressional floor debates on C-SPAN, you can't help but be struck by the elaborate rituals of politeness: "I yield to the gentlelady from Michigan," "Would the chair entertain a motion?", "My good friend from Texas seems to have his head up his ass." OK, the latter wouldn't happen -- because if it did, the offending party would have his words "taken down," which is a stern rebuke in which the remarks are stricken from the record. In other places, they aren't so restrained. In Taiwan, for example, legislators routinely engage in fistfights, at least if our American news broadcasts are to be believed (they can't resist a good Taiwanese legislature fistfight). Great Britain has the spirited tradition of "question time," in which the prime minister comes to the House of Commons to engage in a fast-moving back-and-forth with the opposition, most of whom are of the opinion, which they are happy to share, that...

One Smart Republican.

Marco Rubio , Florida Republican Senate candidate, darling of Tea Partiers, and New Latino Friend to GOP presidential contenders everywhere, just did a very curious thing. He actually came out against Arizona's new immigration law: From what I have read in news reports, I do have concerns about this legislation. While I don’t believe Arizona’s policy was based on anything other than trying to get a handle on our broken borders, I think aspects of the law, especially that dealing with 'reasonable suspicion,' are going to put our law enforcement officers in an incredibly difficult position. It could also unreasonably single out people who are here legally, including many American citizens. Throughout American history and throughout this administration we have seen that when government is given an inch it takes a mile. This makes perfect logical sense. After all, if you oppose big government and worry about "tyranny" (one of the Tea Partiers' favorite words), how can you support a law...

24 Goes Soft; Obama Obviously to Blame.

When this season of 24 began, I confidently predicted that, as usual, Jack Bauer 's eventful day would be chock-full of torture, just as the seasons before had been. "Who knows," I wrote, "maybe the folks at CTU will turn over a new leaf this season, and unearth the nefarious conspiracy without breaking anyone's fingers. But I wouldn't bet on it." How wrong I was. The season is almost over, and torture has been almost totally absent. This is coming from a program that was the iconic television drama of the George W. Bush era, cited again and again by conservatives as the way things ought to be. When you're dealing with terrorist evildoers, they would say, you don't wait around for a court order; you do what you have to do, like Jack does. The program gave them plenty to love -- like the episode where a lawyer from "Amnesty Global" walks into CTU and manages to get a terrorist freed in about 60 seconds, just as Jack was about to make the guy talk. Employing some creative law-...

The First Amendment v. Baby Animals

Let's be real here: James Madison wouldn't have a clue about the legality of "crush videos."

(Flickr/Queen B)
When the Founders wrote the words "freedom of speech" into the Bill of Rights, they certainly didn't considered the possibility that one day, Americans would buy and sell "crush videos," which depict women stepping on small animals with their high heels. Yet the Supreme Court was recently called upon to determine whether that rather unusual form of expression stood outside the First Amendment. While the Court spends much of its time ruling on highly technical matters of commercial and administrative law, every so often it considers a case like this one, which goes to the very heart of the American experiment precisely because of its unsettling nature. Conservatives are talking a lot about "getting back" to the Constitution these days. Some even go so far as to don Colonial-era garb on the occasion of political protests, the better to express their fealty to 18th-century values. But the truth is that as brilliant as the text of the Constitution is, it can't tell us exactly how to order...

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