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

One More Shot at Mark Penn.

A few days ago, erstwhile Clinton poll guru Mark Penn wrote a hilarious op-ed in The Washington Post , suggesting that "Cleggmania" in Britain showed that America was ready for a third party, hopefully helmed by some kind of Bloomberg -esque billionaire who could hire Mark Penn. You'll notice that Cleggmania wasn't so maniacal when Brits went to the polls yesterday. Jonathan Chait and Ed Kilgore gave Penn the required evisceration, but today I came across this interesting passage from John Heilemann and Mark Halperin 's Game Change . The scene takes place right after Barack Obama has sealed the 2008 Democratic nomination by securing the required number of delegates: Clinton polled the table as to whether Obama could win in November. "Yes," [Tina] Flournoy said. With your help, he can win." Everyone but Penn and [Cheryl] Mills agreed. So right after the guy has run the most extraordinary primary campaign in history, raised record amounts of money, shown himself to be the best orator...

The Problem With the "Ideas Factory."

A number of people have done a Nelson Muntz "Ha-ha!" at House Minority Whip Eric Cantor 's announcement that his "ideas factory," called the National Council for a New America, is shutting down one year after its launch, after doing not much of anything. But you've got to have some sympathy for him. The organization's goal of developing "innovative solutions that meet the serious challenges confronting our country" is not easy. After all, Republicans pretty much know what they want to do: cut taxes; cut some kinds of government spending, like on social services, but increase others, like on defense; keep gay people from destroying the American family with their sordid schemes like "marriage" and "commitment"; and cut taxes. And did I mention cutting taxes? If you're going to come up with innovative twists on those ideas, it's going to require a lot of time, energy, and money. And Cantor already has a day job to worry about. Ideas are hard; new ideas are harder still; and new ideas...

Makin' Their Way, the Only Way They Know How

You can argue that supposedly important cultural divisions like "Red America vs. Blue America" are not really rending our nation asunder. But one thing has always been clear: While it may not be easy to get a precise measure of who hates whom more, there is a significant difference in who's doing the complaining. Here's what I mean: Folks in the "heartland" are convinced that when coastal elitists get together at their swanky Upper West Side soirées, there is much talk of the provincialism of the rubes in flyover country. And maybe there is. Southerners are sure (and have been sure since about, oh, 1750) that Northerners think they're a bunch of inbred hicks wearing overalls with no shirts. And maybe they do. But here's what you almost never see: Politicians from the North or the coasts, their voices dripping with contempt, telling their constituents that people who live in a different area of the country are worthy of scorn. In 2004, George W. Bush routinely mocked Massachusetts, the...

David Obey Almost Grants My Wish.

Three months ago, when Evan Bayh announced he was retiring and gave the standard-issue condemnation of the special interests and the money chase senators have to endure, I wrote this : Here's what I'd really like to see: a retiring politician go to town on the constituents . Instead of saying what an honor it has been representing the people of Whereverville, what if he said, "If there's one thing I'm not going to miss, it's pretending to care about the bunch of ill-informed, fickle, whiny constituents I've had to endure in my time in Washington. You, the woman who told me to 'Tell the government to take its hands off my Medicare!' I nodded knowingly, but you know what? You're an idiot. I wish I had told you then, but I didn't have the guts. But now I do: You're an idiot. And you, the people who complain about your taxes (and believe they went up even when they went down), but then raise hell when you're not getting the services you want? Grow up! And you, the people who voted for my...

The Magical Miranda Warning.

Following up on Adam's discussion of Joe Lieberman 's proposal to strip American terrorism suspects of their citizenship so as to avoid having to Mirandize them, there's something odd about this -- and I'm not talking about how profoundly un-American it is (sadly, we've gotten used to that). Conservatives seem to have moved their anti-due-process position over to an anti-Miranda position, which is silly because the reading of Miranda rights doesn't grant them. Suspects have, for instance, the right to a lawyer whether you remind them of it or not. The Miranda warning isn't a magical incantation that brings those rights into being. If you understand that (and granted, it's not a sure thing that Lieberman or anyone else embracing this new attack on due process does), the other possible anti-Miranda rationale is that it will enable us to pull the wool over suspects' eyes for a while if they remain unaware of their rights. But really? I suppose that foreign nationals might be unfamiliar...

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