Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

T-Paw's Dilemma.

During the 2008 campaign, Mike Huckabee used to describe himself this way: "I'm a conservative, but I'm not angry about it." That wouldn't be an inaccurate description of Tim Pawlenty , the former Minnesota governor now ramping up his presidential campaign. The problem is that the conservative base is angry, and winning the Republican nomination may require channeling and playing to that anger. The potential candidates who are angrier -- Sarah Palin , Newt Gingrich -- have enormous liabilities that almost certainly prevent them from winning the general election, while the less angry candidates, like Pawlenty and Mitt Romney , are going to have a harder time tuning in to the the Republican Party zeitgeist. Last night, Pawlenty was interviewed by Jon Stewart , and the interview shows his problem. Stewart spent almost the entire interview pressing Pawlenty on the idea, so common among Republicans these days, that pretty much everything Barack Obama does constitutes "tyranny" (or at least...

You Stay Classy, Sarah Palin.

Yesterday, I, along with plenty of others, noted how poorly Sarah Palin was handling the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting and the criticism she (Palin) has received in the aftermath. She had an opportunity to act presidential, to reach out to those who don't already agree with her, to rise above her usual pettiness. But the thinnest-skinned American politician since Richard Nixon just couldn't do it. And now she has released this rather incredible video. It's an attempt to look presidential -- there's the flag-draped setting, the more formal, less conversational rhetoric. But it's almost as though she just can't resist taking jabs at her opponents. As always, Palin wants you to know that she's the real victim here, beset by meanies who won't leave her alone. Sarah Palin: "America's Enduring Strength" from Sarah Palin on Vimeo . How hard would it have been for her to say that politics ought to be passionate, but all of us sometimes say things we later regret, and we should...

Why Sarah Palin Won't Be President.

One of the criticisms progressives often make of Barack Obama is that he spends far too much time trying to make his opponents like him and not enough time worrying about what his supporters think of him. Sarah Palin , on the other hand, has the opposite problem: She spends all her time speaking to those who are already within her bubble of support, and no time thinking about how she can persuade those who aren't already on her side. Her reaction to the Gabrielle Giffords shooting has cast this tendency in stark relief. She had an opportunity to step outside of her normal way of doing things and could have actually begun to change the way people thought about her. Instead, she was true to form: defensive, snide, consumed by real and imagined slights. Her latest statement was an e-mail to Glenn Beck for him to read on the air: "I hate violence. I hate war. Our children will not have peace if politicos just capitalize on this to succeed in portraying anyone as inciting terror and...

The Free Market and Health Care.

In my ongoing campaign to get everyone involved in public debate to be specific about what they're talking about, I'll point to this argument , from The Economist : [the Affordable Care Act] is exactly the result of 30 years of liberals letting go of the idea of a simple, centralised government programme of national health insurance, and instead devising increasingly market-based, decentralised, Friedmanite or Hayekian systems to achieve universal access to health care through private health-insurance corporations. I literally cannot imagine a more market-based, private-sector system for universal health insurance than the one that the Democrats implemented last fall. In all the world, a world which contains many conservative-leaning countries beside the United States (Switzerland, Japan), there is no more private-sector-oriented universal health-insurance system than ObamaCare. When you ask conservatives these days what they'd like to do about health care if the ACA is repealed, they...

Taking, Not Placing, Responsibility

We're beginning to take a long overdue look at the state of our political debate. But that examination needs to be honest.

Members of Congress and staff observe a moment of silence for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other shooting victims. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
In the wake of Saturday's tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona, we're beginning to take a long overdue look at the state of our political debate. But that examination needs to be honest. There are times when both the right and the left are equally guilty of some sin or other, and the press' instinct to characterize every problem as the equal responsibility of both sides does no harm. This is not one of those times. The simple, unavoidable fact is that it is the right that has been purveying the rhetoric of violence in the last few years. Many conservatives have declined to participate in this festival of hate and rage, and we should be careful to give credit, as well as blame, where it's due. Everyone, though, has an obligation to look at what they've said and what they've tolerated. Conservatives are now arguing that they don't bear any responsibility for the horrific act of murder committed by Jared Loughner, because he seems so clearly disturbed. That, though, is precisely where the...

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