Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Smile For the Camera, Citizen

A taste of what's to come (Flickr/webjones)
The last few years have not been good to people who care deeply about privacy. Every few months, some new story comes to light about how corporations or government are gathering, sorting, and storing huge amounts of information about us. After a brief spate of interest, people generally go back to what they were doing before. "My iPhone is tracking my movements? Wow, that's creepy. But is Siri awesome, or what? I can't wait for the iPhone 5..." But what if the invasion of your privacy was a little more physical? Alexis Madrigal suggests that when drone aircraft start buzzing over our houses, we may finally get off our duffs and demand some limits to the spying: Drones, in my mind, make it clear how many of our feelings about privacy rest on the assumption that surveillance is time consuming or difficult. If someone smokes a joint in her backyard, she [is] making the (pretty good) calculation that a police officer is not watching. In our cars, we assume we can quickly send a text...

Mitt Romney's Wingman

Ron Paul's constant support for Mitt Romney has been one of this campaign's enduring mysteries. Paul has attacked every other candidate, often with vigor, but has never aimed his sites at Romney. And now he's taking on Rick Santorum directly, with his admaker's unusual (for political ads, anyway) style of hyper-kinetic, animation-based frenzy. Check it out: We'll get to the substance in a minute, but first, why is Paul doing this? I guess you could argue that if he helps Romney knock off Santorum, then it's just him and Romney. The hottest conspiracy theory is that Paul is actually working to secure a VP nod for his son, the spectacularly awful Rand Paul, and Dad carrying water for the probable nominee is the best way to do it. But nobody really knows what lurks in the heart of Paul. The attack on Santorum is actually pretty revealing. It all flies by pretty fast, but in there you have that Santorum voted to raise the debt ceiling; "doubled the size of the Department of Education" (...

The Least Funny Republican

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)
From our standpoint over on the left, this Republican presidential primary has been a remarkable spectacle to behold. We've watched in wonder as one ridiculous candidate after another has rocketed to the top of the polls, all while the guy everyone assumes will be the eventual nominee struggles to convince voters he's a real human. The race has been a parade of charlatans and fools, with the lead at various times being held by an unhinged religious nut (Bachmann), a governor who made George W. Bush look like Stephen Hawking (Perry), a pizza executive whose ignorance was truly head-spinning (Cain), the nation's most unpopular major politician (Gingrich), and America's most vulgar citizen (Trump). None of these people were remotely imaginable as president, and all were a hoot to watch as they bumbled along toward their inevitable falls. But now that Rick Santorum is the last non-Romney standing, things have taken a serious turn. Santorum is not hilariously buffoonish, amusingly stupid,...

Apparently, Montgomery Burns Is An Accurate Representation of His Class

Caution - jerks inside. (Flickr/StevenM_61)
Over the weekend, the Boston Globe had a piece examining some interesting research showing that the rich really are different from you and me—they're worse: Rich people have a harder time connecting with others, showing less empathy to the extent of dehumanizing those who are different from them. They are less charitable and generous. They are less likely to help someone in trouble. And they are more likely to defend an unfair status quo. If you think you'd behave differently in their place, meanwhile, you're probably wrong: These aren't just inherited traits, but developed ones. Money, in other words, changes who you are. And it turns out that similar effects happen when people gain power as when they gain money. Of course, these kind of effects aren't going to be visible in every wealthy person—some of them are just as nice as could be. But if these studies are right then these unattractive traits are more visible in those that have more money. As you may have noticed, candidates...

New Blog to Transform American Politics, Say Observers

(Flickr/Cherry Crimson)
Beginning today, I'll be one of the Voices featured here on, which means that all my writing going forward will be collected in this space (although my posts on the campaign will still appear in Vox Pop as well). Those of you familiar with the work I've done here at TAP over the last five years will know what to expect: lots of politics, lots of discussion of the way politics is transmitted through the media, a bit of policy wonkery, and a few side orders of culture, technology, and whatever else catches my eye. There will be occasional interviews with people who know more than I do about an important issue or have something interesting to say, and multimedia presentations of various sorts. My hope is that it will all add up to package that is informed and takes policy seriously, but remains lively; addresses the events of each day but brings a perspective that is relevant for more than a moment; and is driven by progressive values without being predictable or consumed...