Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

The Journalist and the General.

A few years ago, I was at a party at a conference and found myself chatting with a reporter for another liberal magazine. We talked for a while about politics and the media and then went on to other conversations. About a week later, something I said during that conversation ended up in a story she wrote. She quoted me accurately, and it wasn't anything particularly shocking, but I was still surprised and a little insulted that what I had assumed was just a friendly conversation was actually a secret interview, with her taking feverish mental notes. But she was playing well within the rules everyone who deals with the press understands: When there's a reporter in earshot, you should just assume that whatever you're saying is on the record and may be quoted. And that's particularly true if you invite the reporter to follow you around for a month while he prepares a profile of you for a major magazine, which is what Stanley McChrystal is relearning (I say relearning, because he...

Your Tax Dollars at Work, Air-Conditioning Edition.

(Pat Corkery/NREL) As nice as it would be if we find one magical new technology that will solve all our energy problems from now until forever (and who knows, we might), people who are serious about energy know that the solution to the energy problems that plague us -- global warming, oil spills, and so on -- will probably have to come from a variety of new approaches all working together. Better batteries to move the entire fleet to hybrid or all-electric cars, more efficient solar panels, more use of wind and tidal power -- we're going to need it all. Conservation may be the least sexy part of the equation -- or so you thought! Do the words "syrupy desiccants" get your heart pumping? Well, they ought to, because they could revolutionize that most spectacular of 20th-century inventions, air-conditioning. You've probably never heard of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, but the folks there seem to have created something pretty awesome. It's called the Desiccant-Enhanced...

A Bold New Plan!

Sigh. (Via Daily Kos ) One of the image problems religion has is that a lot of its biggest fans have a rather juvenile conception of God as a capricious and cruel being who needs to be begged to stop being so mean to us -- but can be persuaded to do so if we ask in the right way. After all, if we're praying to God to stop the oil spill, doesn't that mean God caused the oil spill in the first place? Or at least if he wanted to stop it, why didn't he do it right away, instead of befouling so much of his creation and ruining the livelihoods of so many people? And if this is all His Plan, who are we to ask him to change His Plan in the middle of things? Is he going to say, "It was my divine plan for this spill to continue for another month, but since you prayed ... oh, all right." These are questions one would hope a child would begin to ask in Sunday school. But throwing up our hands because "man's efforts have been futile," then asking God to step in and solve our problems is probably...

Keep In Touch

Savvy politicos make sure their bosses know what the current price of items like milk and gas are, because every once in a while someone will deliver a little pop quiz to the candidate, and the last thing a politician wants is to appear "out of touch" with ordinary people, like the kind of guy who doesn't buy his own groceries. I've always thought those kind of quizzes are silly -- in my experience, ideology has a lot more to do with the priorities politicians have than how "in touch" they are. It's not like you're going to find too many Republicans saying, "I had no idea it was hard to make a living on $5 an hour -- from now on, I will support increasing the minimum wage!" That being said, there are times when it becomes clear that we do want our politicians, no matter what their ideology, to have some conception of what ordinary people are going through. Here's Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul , explaining why he opposes the extension of unemployment benefits: "As bad as it...

It's Not You; It's Me

As California's same-sex-marriage trial ends, the case against marriage equality is all about straight people.

(Flickr/wanderinghome)
In 2003, the Supreme Court, in the case of Lawrence v. Texas , declared that statutes outlawing sodomy were unconstitutional, because the moral judgment of a majority was not sufficient reason to deprive a minority of its fundamental rights. In a typically spirited dissent , Justice Antonin Scalia declared that the majority had "taken sides in the culture war" -- though of course, he, in opposition, was not taking sides but merely objectively assessing the Constitution. "Today's opinion," Scalia wrote, "dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned." Last week in a federal courtroom in San Francisco, closing arguments were made in Perry v. Schwarzenegger , a case that could well prove Scalia right. But in the intervening years, the case against gay rights has changed dramatically. Gone is the assertion of moral condemnation that lay at the...

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