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

It's Not That They Don't Know. It's That They Don't Care.

You don't have to expect every politician to be a serious policy wonk to believe that he or she ought to have a grasp of at least the basics of the key issues they debate. And if they don't have that grasp at the beginning of a debate, then they ought to by the end of it. If there's one thing we can say about the last year, it's that we all learned a lot about health-care policy. Or at least most of us did. At the Atlanta Journal-Constitution , Jay Bookman discusses an interview the paper's editors did with Sen. Mitch McConnell , the leader of Senate Republicans, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (h/t Steve Benen ). It contains an extraordinary passage concerning banning exclusions for preexisting conditions and the individual mandate. As we all know, if you're going to forbid insurers from excluding people with preexisting conditions, you have to have a mechanism for keeping people from gaming the system by waiting until they get sick to get insurance. If you don't, costs enter a "death...

Sarah Palin is the Fox News of Politicians.

People are beginning to notice that Sarah Palin has morphed into something quite new: not so much a political figure as a kind of multimedia brand, one for whom actual politics seems almost ancillary to the generation of greater and greater celebrity. When you look at Brand Palin, she begins to look like the Fox News of politicians. I don't mean that so much in an ideological sense. Like Palin, Fox has a following that is small as a portion of the population but is extremely passionate and consumed with resentment at the "elites" who supposedly look down their noses at them. Serious people of all political stripes think both are kind of a joke, a badge which Palin and Fox wear with honor. Fox beats its cable competitors, but its top-rated show, "The O'Reilly Factor," gets about 3 million viewers a night, or one out of a hundred Americans. Likewise, most Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Palin and think she's unqualified to be president. Both Fox and Palin have the ability to...

A Tea Party With a Side of Bacon?

If you love freedom, you'll eat this. (Flickr/ permanently scatterbrained ) One of the little-noticed provisions in the recently passed Affordable Care Act mandates that restaurant chains with more than 20 locations will have to post the calories contained in all their offerings. There's a lot of skepticism about whether this will actually have much of a practical effect in reducing obesity, but I think it could actually increase it among a certain portion of the population. Seeing as conservatives are looking hard for ways to express their displeasure with Barack Obama's jackbooted heel being pressed on their necks, this provides a great means of civil disobedience, one I predict they will avail themselves of as soon as the policy goes into effect. Want to show Big Government you won't stand for their paternalistic meddling? You could swallow the new KFC Double Down , a bacon/egg/cheese sandwich that replaces the bun with two fried chicken patties. But that's got a mere 540 calories...

Internet + Small Children Acting Grown-Up = Momentary Fame.

In 1854, Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden , his chronicle of his time spent puttering about in the woods, that the advent of the telegraph was unlikely to make us much better informed: "We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough." Thoreau could be a bit of a downer. I thought about watching this while seeing the curious spectacle at opening day at Fenway Park, wherein a 5-year-old boy named Joshua Sacco was brought out to the field to offer his rendition of the speech Kurt Russell gives in the movie Miracle to inspire the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team: As inspiring speeches go, it's OK, if not spectacular. Delivered by a 5-year-old, it is fairly cute. This is why young Joshua's original YouTube version from last July has garnered nearly 3 million views. That puts him in the second...

Denying You're a Maverick Is Just the Kind of Thing a Maverick Does.

In an interview with Newsweek , John McCain has denied he ever claimed to be a "maverick," which is pretty remarkable, since this was the idea on which his entire career was constructed. "'Maverick' is a mantle McCain no longer claims; in fact, he now denies he ever was one. 'I never considered myself a maverick,' he told me. 'I consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities.'" Right. But here's my question: At this point, why would any journalist consider the idea that McCain was ever a "maverick" anything but a joke? Newsweek certainly doesn't -- they subtitled the article this way: "A maverick fights for his political life -- and his soul." You can also check out the photo gallery, titled "A Maverick's Path." I'm proud to say that I was screaming to all who would listen that McCain wasn't a maverick, long before it was cool. For instance, I wrote a column over two years ago titled "The Maverick Myth," in which I discussed why the nickname was...

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