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

What Just Ain't So.

Mark Twain once said something to the effect that it's not what you don't know that gets you into trouble; it's what you know for sure that just ain't so. This is what I'd like to add to the discussion going on among Jon Chait , Julian Sanchez , and Matt Yglesias on the right's "epistemic closure," the belief that the only sources of information that can be trusted are those that exist within your movement. As someone commented somewhere along the way, the difference between the left and the right isn't that the left doesn't have its own ideological information sources but that they see these as an addition to those sources that do actual news-gathering, not a substitute for them. Progressives like Rachel Maddow , but nobody thinks that if you watch her show, you now no longer need to read the newspaper or listen to NPR to understand what's going on in the world. Quite a few conservatives, on the other hand, believe that if you're listening to Rush Limbaugh or watching Glenn Beck ,...

The People of the Book.

I have a lot of disagreements with conservatives, but there's one thing I'll give them credit for: their support of the publishing industry. I give you the top-selling non-fiction books of 2009, from Publisher's Weekly (h/t Tyler Cowen ): 1. Going Rogue: An American Life. Sarah Palin. Harper (2,674,684). 2. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment. Steve Harvey. Harper (1,735,219). 3. *Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government. Glenn Beck. Threshold. 4. *Liberty & Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. Mark R. Levin. 5. True Compass: A Memoir. Edward M. Kennedy. Grand Central (870,402). 6. Have a Little Faith: A True Story. Mitch Albom. Hyperion (855,843). 7. *It's Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor. Joel Osteen. Free Press. 8. The Last Lecture. Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow. Hyperion (610,033). 9. Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books...

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...

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