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 Final DADT Battle

What was once a divisive question has now become about as close to a matter of consensus as we get in American politics these days.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (DoD/Chad J. McNeeley)
Ask a schoolchild about the civil-rights movement, and he'll tell you that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, then Martin Luther King Jr. gave the "I Have a Dream" speech, then some laws were passed, and now everyone's equal. The truth, of course, is that things moved much slower than that. Ten years passed between the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ordering the desegregation of schools, and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, for instance. And if legal changes are slow, changes in beliefs and attitudes can be glacial in their progress. It's been 17 years since Bill Clinton tried unsuccessfully to remove the ban on gay Americans serving in the armed forces, which resulted in the disastrous policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT). Last week saw the latest development in this ongoing saga: On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the defense authorization bill, which would repeal the ban, and a few hours later,...

One Step Closer to Ending the Ban on Gays in the Military

The momentum continues : Congress has taken two big steps toward ending the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. In quick succession Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full House approved measures to repeal the 1993 law that allows gay people to serve in the armed services only if they hide their sexual orientation. ... The drive to end the ban still has a long way to go. The 234-194 House vote was an amendment to a defense spending bill that comes up for a final vote Friday. While the spending bill, which approves more than $700 billion in funds for military operations, enjoys wide support, some lawmakers vowed to vote against it if the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal was included. ... The full Senate is expected to take up the defense bill next month, and Republicans are threatening a filibuster if the change in policy toward gays remains in the legislation. Of course they are. But given the overwhelming public support...

The Localism Problem

We have a conceit in this country that the closer power gets to "the people," the more virtuous it is. Your local town council members are fine upstanding folks, your state legislature is still close enough to be "in touch," but those people up in Washington don't know or care a darn bit about you, and are probably on the take. The truth, however, is that Congress is probably less corrupt than at any point in our history. Real old-fashioned corruption, of the briefcase-full-of-cash kind, is extremely rare (though it still happens, as with William Jefferson , he of the $90,000 stuffed in the freezer). That isn't to say that malfeasance doesn't still occur, not to mention the many things that ought to be illegal but aren't, like taking campaign contributions from industries your committee regulates. But on the whole, today's member of Congress is far less likely to be corrupt than her counterpart of 100 years ago. It's nice to get a reminder now and then that the real brazen stuff is...

Probably Not the GOP's Next Great Black Leader.

As you may have heard, the Republican Party is enthusiastic about the fact that 32 African American Republicans, a record number, are running for Congress this year. But they may not be so enthusiastic about one of the people leading the recruiting efforts: Timothy Johnson , the vice chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party. As TAP senior correspondent Sarah Posner reports in a revealing investigative report over at Alternet, Johnson doesn't seem like the kind of guy any political party wants to associate with: At first glance, Dr. Timothy F. Johnson appears to be everything the Republican Party -- and its allies in the religious right and the Tea Party movement -- would want in a point man for the recruitment of African-American candidates to the GOP ticket. Tall, trim and good-looking, with a Ph.D., according to his bio, and a 21-year military career -- from which he retired as an officer, according to his resume -- Johnson presents himself as a committed Christian family man...

Elect Me to Congress and Your Worries Are Over

David Weigel flags for us an amusing case of two politicians, one a congressional candidate in Tennessee, and one a candidate for agriculture commissioner in Alabama, who are running virtually identical ads produced by the same media consultant. It's not just the stock footage and the scripts that are almost identical but the fact that the two are standing in the same field next to the same tractor, and in one candidate's ad, you can see him talking to the other candidate. But that's not what I want to point out. The ad from Stephen Fincher tells you a lot about why Americans are cynical about politics: Career politicians have failed us from Harbinger International on Vimeo . "Stephen Fincher will stand up to Washington," it says. "Cut taxes to create jobs. Control wasteful spending. Stop expanding government. Expand freedom instead." Really? Here's a bold prediction: No he won't . Not because he'll be seduced by Washington's ways or because he doesn't actually want to do those things...

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