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's With All the Hating on Congressional Staff?

One of the oddest things we've seen in recent weeks is the way Republicans have taken to lashing out at congressional staff. First you had Newt Gingrich arguing that health-care reform couldn't be done right because it was in the hands of staffers "who have never had a real job, who spent their entire life being arrogant to visitors from back home, who end up thinking they know a lot because they stay up until 3 o'clock working on a word processor, and who write legislation as though they have some contact with reality." Then you had John Boehner imploring his banker friends, "Don't let those little punk staffers take advantage of you and stand up for yourselves" by fighting against financial reform. Now you've got Rep. Devin Nunes , who apparently is pledging the congressional fraternity Beta Tau Nutball ( Michele Bachmann , Rush Chair), complaining that Democrats are employing "staff thugs" who do things like monitor votes. It makes you wonder what the people who work for these...

Would Things Have Been Different If Hillary Clinton Had Won?

Remember during the 2008 primary campaign how Obama supporters argued that one reason not to elect Hillary Clinton was that she would unite Republicans against her? And that since they hated her so much, they'd wage a scorched-earth campaign against everything she tried to do, miring the country in years of bitter and angry conflict, full of insane and venomous charges that would force the administration to defend itself against the conspiracy theories of an increasingly unhinged opposition? And that they'd work their supporters up into such a lather of hatred that we might see a repeat of the early 1990s, with the rise of right-wing anti-government populism that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing? Good thing we dodged that one. I bring this up not as a criticism of Obama ’s ceaseless efforts to reach across the aisle and treat Republicans like grown-ups who might have an interest in governing. But this outcome shows that some time ago, conservatives stopped believing that any...

The Difference Between Ideology and Partisanship

The blogosphere has been abuzz with the strange case of David Frum , who just got canned from his cozy sinecure at the American Enterprise Institute, probably the second-most-important think tank on the right (after the Heritage Foundation). Frum has an excellent conservative pedigree. He was a speechwriter for George W. Bush , among other things, and he remains extremely conservative today. However, over the last year or so he has been making a name for himself as a reasonable conservative, one willing to call out the Republican Party when he thinks it's making a mistake. And that, apparently, is the problem. The last straw for AEI was apparently this post on Frum's blog, where he said, "Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s," and went on to lay the blame at the all-or-nothing strategy employed by the GOP leadership. Frum's crime was not an ideological one but a partisan one. Apparently, not only is it forbidden to...

Are Your Neighbors Fulfilling Their Constitutional Duty?

The census Web site has long been dreadful, a circa-1995 dump of a place. Which is a pity, because they have some of the richest data in the world, yet to get at it you have to go through layers and layers of menus until you reach ... a downloadable excel file. If they had the will (and the time, and the money), they could make their site a cornucopia of informative, accessible, and interactive infographics. But they don't. So it's nice to see that at least for the 2010 version of the census, the agency is doing some good stuff. The 2010 census site is all Obama-fied, with soothing blue tones, a blog , and friendly videos. There's even an interactive map , which allows you to see how your state, county, city, or even census tract is doing on returning its census forms. Here, for instance, is a zip code I chose at random (12345, which happens to be Schenectady, New York). You can see how they're doing compared to the country and their state, and how they did in 2000. Keep sending in...

Which Are Good? Which Are Bad?

I teach a class at a local university, and in preparing for this week's session on health communication campaigns, I came across this bizarre public service announcement from Canada from the 1980s, which appears not to be a parody. The refrain of the song goes, "Drugs, drugs, drugs. Which are good, which are bad? Drugs, drugs drugs. Ask your mom or ask your dad!" The somewhat mixed message is that there are some drugs we get from the doctor, which are good and help us feel better when we're sick. Then there are other drugs which are bad, because they might get you in trouble with the law -- as evidenced by the world's friendliest cops, who apparently will punish you if they catch you with any by dancing around with you. If your mom or dad aren't around to tell you the difference, you can identify the bad drugs, because they'll be in black and white. We learned yesterday that the California initiative to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state has qualified for November's...

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