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

Judicial Drama

Why you don't need to pay attention to Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
With John Paul Stevens' impending retirement, Barack Obama now has his second opportunity to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court. Republicans surely know that they won't be able to actually stop Obama's nominee from being confirmed. So they are no doubt hoping to create a teachable political moment, one that clarifies distinctions between the parties and keeps our political clash of civilizations humming along. At times like this, when the outcome is not much in doubt, we should ask: Is there anything to be gained from the theatrical presentations we will soon be witnessing? The answer to that probably depends on where you sit. The last time around -- during the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor -- the Republican opposition was able to steer the conversation, unified in its approach and rhetoric. Unfortunately for Republicans, the message was one of hostility toward minorities in general and Latinos in particular. All of the core arguments they made against Sotomayor were variations...

The Audacity Gap Continues.

There are some political problems that can be solved with a shift in strategy or rhetoric -- for instance, after Scott Brown 's surprise victory in the Massachusetts special election, Democrats realized they were being damaged by the perception that they were a bunch of ineffectual cowards, so they stopped acting cowardly and actually passed health-care reform. It didn't turn everything to roses, but it gave them a chance to minimize their political losses this fall. But there are some problems that have no simple solution. One of these is what I call the audacity gap in American politics, the fact that there are certain things Republicans are quite happy to do that Democrats won't. A lot of it has to do with how brazenly disingenuous they're willing to be. For instance, Republicans don't like the idea of tougher regulations on banks, so they huddle with their patrons in the banking industry, then emerge and announce that they oppose this reform because ... it's a bailout for those...

Fight the Power, Except Not.

Untitled from elizabeth glover on Vimeo . Via Andrew Sullivan , we see the predominantly 50+ Tea Partiers uncomfortably encounter that hippity-hoppity music all the kids listen to these days. They are unmoved. One note to the performers: All those elected officials you don't like? They're your representatives. You have representation. I know "taxation without representation" allows you to rhyme "the Tea Party movement is sweeping the nation," but you might as well be rapping against the the next King of England being determined via primogeniture. Because that doesn't apply to our country either. --Paul Waldman

Policing the Boundaries of Morality.

A number of people have noted that after a weird outbreak of at least tentative reasonableness, Focus on the Family reversed itself this week and declared that no, they would absolutely not be open to the idea of a gay person on the Supreme Court, no matter how otherwise sane such a person might seem. The bigotry we've come to expect, but there's something else notable about the statement the group issued: We can assure you that we recognize that homosexual behavior is a sin and does not reflect God's created intent and desire for humanity. Further, we at Focus do affirm that character and moral rectitude should be key considerations in appointing members of the judiciary, especially in the case of the highest court in the land. Sexual behavior — be it heterosexual or homosexual — certainly lies at the heart of personal morality. Sexual behavior -- i.e., engaging only in a very specific set of allowable sexual activities, namely heterosexual sex between married men and women -- "lies...

Three Cheers for Tax Day!

Around this time every year, people start making all kinds of ideologically motivated claims about taxes. So I thought it might be worthwhile to diffuse a few myths. Let's get right to it: We're taxed to death! Well, no. In fact, when you look at American tax rates compared to those of other countries, we have extremely low taxes. This graph, using data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development , shows that among industrialized countries, we rank near the bottom in taxes paid. It's a little hard to see, but the U.S. is over there on the right, with only the Japanese, Turkish, and Mexicans paying less in taxes than us: But the hard-working rich are paying all the taxes! Again, no. The rich pay much more in federal income taxes , which are actually progressive. But federal income taxes are only one of the many taxes we pay. Add in payroll taxes, sales taxes, excise taxes, and property taxes, and you get a very different picture, one in which the poor pay a little...

Pages