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

This Crazy Goes To 11.

(Flickr/ Jonathan McIntosh ) Is Fox News' Glenn Beck going to turn out to be the Icarus of the current political moment, flying too close to that giant fiery ball of crazy in the sky and falling back down to Earth? He's gotten into some trouble recently after attacking churches who advocate social justice, which is ... well, nearly every Christian denomination. "I beg you look for the words social justice or economic justice on your church Web site," he said. "If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. ... Am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!" He went on to explain what those are code words for: socialism and Nazism. Yes, Nazism. Churches from across the political and theological spectrum have condemned Beck, and even representatives of his own Mormon faith were appalled. Then we learned yesterday from Howard Kurtz that "there is a deep split within Fox between those -- led by Chairman Roger Ailes -- who are supportive...

More Than Words

Republicans have won the language battle on health care. But it's beginning to look like all they care about is talk.

As much as politicians like to imagine themselves men and women of action, what they mostly do is talk. They talk to the cameras, they talk to constituents, they talk to contributors, they talk to each other. It's almost impossible to be a successful politician without the ability to lodge words and images in the public mind. The result is that a really adept politician has to be part linguist and part semiotician. This is particularly true when you're out of power and there's so little you can actually accomplish. As Republicans are faced with the possibility that this week, Democrats might actually succeed in passing their most critical domestic initiative, is their mastery of the symbolic really enough? Without question, the GOP won the language battle over health care. With a few vivid terms, like "government takeover" and "death panels," Republicans captured the public's imagination in an otherwise dull policy debate. When they turned their argument to process, they grabbed...

Man-On-Horse in Arizona

Via Steve Benen , we see that former Rep. J.D. Hayworth , who is challenging John McCain in the Republican Senate primary in Arizona, has some interesting ideas about what gay marriage will lead to: "You see, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, when it started this move toward same-sex marriage, actually defined marriage -- now get this -- it defined marriage as simply, 'the establishment of intimacy,'" Hayworth said. "Now how dangerous is that? I mean, I don't mean to be absurd about it, but I guess I can make the point of absurdity with an absurd point -- I guess that would mean if you really had affection for your horse, I guess you could marry your horse. It's just the wrong way to go, and the only way to protect the institution of marriage is with that federal marriage amendment that I support." This kind of thing comes up with alarming frequency from Christian conservatives. For some of them, any issue of gay rights is about sex -- hot, steamy sex, so hot they can't stop thinking...

Pro-Lifers For More Abortions.

Imagine that you are strongly opposed to abortion rights, and what you'd like is for all abortions to be illegal. Then you're faced with two alternatives: 1. In Path 1, federal funds will not be used to give anyone abortion coverage, but the number of abortions will either stay the same or increase. 2. In Path 2, federal funds will not be used to give anyone abortion coverage, but the number of abortions will decline. Seems like a clear choice, right? Well, not if you're Rep. Bart Stupak . Stupak is withholding support for the Senate's health-care bill and trying to get as many anti-choice Democrats as he can to join him, because he worries that the Senate language on abortion isn't restrictive enough. The truth, however, is that the Senate language is actually more restrictive. In both bills, if you're getting your coverage through the insurance exchange, you're receiving subsidies, and if you want abortion coverage, you'll have to jump through hoops. The Senate bill demands that you...

Pizza Menus and Irrational Doctors.

A few days ago, Dan Ariely of Duke University, was on NPR to discuss his research on the way doctors make decisions, which mirrors the troubling ways consumers make decisions. If a pizza menu starts with the pie with everything, then descends into options with fewer and fewer toppings, people will order more toppings than if they're looking at a menu that puts the plain pie at the top. "If you go to the hospital these days," Ariely says, "you will see that they have these electronic order forms. ... And sometimes these order forms are empty, nothing is selected for them. The default is nothing, and they have to pick what they want to order. And sometimes some tests are preselected for them." When they did an experiment on how these two options affected the choices doctors made, "in the empty set, physicians chose an average five tests. And in the full set, they chose an average 13 tests. ... And the difference was about $1,300 per patient." What does this have to do with the health-...

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