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 Value of Journalistic Introspection.

We all have a tendency to justify our mistakes, convincing ourselves that either it wasn't a mistake at all or that we did the best anyone could have done given the exigencies of the moment. We throw good money after bad and good energy after bad, all in the service of convincing ourselves that we thought and acted properly. So it's refreshing when someone comes out and says, "I was wrong." Along those lines, Josh Green of the Atlantic has something interesting to say about Nancy Pelosi : In 2005, I wrote a short, fairly negative profile of Pelosi and Harry Reid called "The Odd Couple." My contention was that Democrats, then at their Bush-era nadir, needed revolutionaries to lead a comeback, and that Pelosi and Reid, ineffectual party lifers, didn't fit the bill. ("The vapid response team," Charlie Cook dubbed them in my piece.) "Both apprenticed as whip," I wrote, "a job that requires corralling and cajoling fellow congressmen to support the party line." I thought they lacked the...

The Future of Advertising.

If you use Google's Gmail, you probably felt a moment of unease upon learning that, in exchange for getting this free and extremely well-designed service (note to other e-mail providers: organizing messages into threads is the greatest thing ever), you'd have to give up a bit of your privacy. Namely, Gmail scans your messages, picks out keywords, and then puts up ads in your e-mail it believes are relevant to those keywords. For instance, if someone mentions China in a message to you, while you're reading it, there will be ads on the right side of your screen for travel companies offering tours to China. Most people very quickly stop noticing the ads, but if you stop to think about it, it's kind of creepy -- particularly since most of us treat e-mail the way we would a phone call, saying all kinds of personal things on the implicit assumption that no one's really listening. But now I've found that Google is stalking me. I'm considering buying a new phone, and in that process I...

Egging On the Crazies.

I spent some time yesterday talking on Canadian radio, explaining health-care reform to our neighbors to the north. They were a bit puzzled at what's been going on down here. Why, they wanted to know, was there all that talk about "socialism" when the reform left in place the private insurance system? And why were people so angry? I found it a little hard to explain without going into an hour-long history of right-wing populism in America. It's true that over time, the bill lost support. Mitch McConnell believes that's because of the united front he and his colleagues displayed, and he's right -- one of the things that happens in public debate is that voters pick up cues from elites about where they're supposed to stand, and one message repeated over and over was that every single Republican is opposed to this, so if you're a Republican voter, you ought to be opposed to it, too. That alone will get you to about 40 percent opposition. But something else happened: over time, the small...

A Health-Care Victory At Last

In a historic vote, Congress has finally passed comprehensive health-care reform after months of negotiations and decades of failed attempts.

At long, long last, the health-care reform fight is finally over. We have no idea how Barack Obama's presidency will turn out at the end, but we know this: He accomplished something that stubbornly eluded Democratic presidents -- and even one Republican -- for decades. The remainder of his term could be a string of defeats and disasters, yet it cannot be taken from him that he passed this nearly impossible test of skill, patience, vision, and sheer will. Over the course of this debate, progressives have gotten used to beginning their comments on the various reform plans by saying, "It's not everything that I'd want, but…." And of course the bill that finally passed isn't perfect, which is why we should continue working to improve it in the coming months and years. But it is something extraordinary nevertheless. The passage of health-care reform is a huge benefit to lower- and middle-class Americans; finally, there is something resembling health security for all of us. Some of the most...

Public Remains Confused on Health-Care Reform.

There's a new poll out from the Kaiser Family Foundation on health-care reform, and it shows pretty much what you'd expect: The public is closely divided and extremely misinformed. But they aren't randomly misinformed; they're systematically misinformed. Democrats are slightly misinformed, independents are quite misinformed, and Republicans are ridiculously misinformed. Take, for instance, this question: This isn't a matter of interpretation; it's a matter of fact: At every stage in this process, the CBO has said that every version of reform will lower the deficit. The only question has been by how much. Part of this happens because some people get their information from sources that deliberately misinform them (e.g. Fox). But the greater part is that we tend not to assess the facts and then decide what we think; we decide what we think and then decide what the "facts" are. And with each new question, it gets worse: This too, is not a matter of opinion. No one who has employer-...

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