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

The Strategists Are Not the Story.

Over the weekend, we learned that David Plouffe, who managed Barack Obama's presidential campaign, will be returning to Washington to oversee the Democrats' efforts to avoid an electoral disaster in the fall.

Scott Brown: I Hope to Be As Ineffectual As John McCain.

This is encouraging news from our newest senator:

Sen.-elect Brown navigated the Russell Senate Office Building on Thursday for his first appointment with Sen. John McCain.

A National Guardsman, Brown said in the interview that McCain was his senatorial model. "I have great respect for Senator McCain," Brown said of the Arizona Republican, who was one of his first establishment backers. "I've known him for a while, long before this, and you know he is a war hero and kind of a maverick independent thinker."

He added, "I've told my leadership already that I'm not a rubber stamp for anybody."

Fear Will Keep the Local Systems In Line.

Mark Schmitt knows more about campaign finance than just about anyone, so when he says that the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, though awful, may not cause the sky to fall right away, I want to believe him. But there's an angle on this story that makes me really concerned, and it's not the one most people think about when they think about campaign finance.

When the Court ruled that corporations are now essentially free to engage in as much electioneering as they want, they didn’t just invalidate the federal laws prohibiting such activities. They also invalidated the state and local laws to that effect.

Crunch Time for Democrats

One of the great fears politicians have is that there will be some wave of strong feeling among the public that they will be oblivious to, until it rolls over them and it's too late to do anything about it. This happened to Democrats in 1994, and it happened to Republicans in 2006. Right now, a lot of Democrats are worried that there's another wave of strong feeling coming at them. Republicans have been working very hard to convince them that the teabaggers screaming about socialism represent more than a small minority of the country (they don't), and that the current voter discontentment doesn't really have much to do with the economy – which would mean that your average independent voter will still be determined to throw the bums out even after the economy recovers.

Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?

Progressives often observe that the news media let Republicans get away with things they never let Democrats get away with, and that's often true. But we also have to acknowledge that how controversial a particular action becomes has a lot do with the choices that political actors make. Republicans are very, very good at ginning up controversy over something a Democrat said or did. Democrats could do the same thing, if they put their hearts into it.

But much of the time, they just don't. Which is why we get things like this: