Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger, and a contributing editor. 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

Spinning the Stevens Replacement.

In case you haven't had your fill of contentious debates and preening senators, we've got a Supreme Court vacancy to fill. The big question (after whom Obama will nominate) is just how Republicans will decide to oppose the nominee. Will they launch a filibuster, as Adam discusses , and validate everything Democrats have been saying about "the Party of No"? Will they use the nomination to whip up populist anger at the administration? As Matt Yglesias noted , "Evaluating the nominee on the merits doesn't seem to be an option." What I think we can agree on is that the strategy will be pretty much the same, no matter who the nominee is. And what might that strategy be? Let's look at some possibilities: 1. The nominee is a [cue scary music] judicial activist who will impose his/her own liberal views instead of applying the law. This argument is going to be somewhat hard to make, since the most pressing legal issue at the moment for Republicans is their demand that the courts overturn a law...

What Just Ain't So.

Mark Twain once said something to the effect that it's not what you don't know that gets you into trouble; it's what you know for sure that just ain't so. This is what I'd like to add to the discussion going on among Jon Chait , Julian Sanchez , and Matt Yglesias on the right's "epistemic closure," the belief that the only sources of information that can be trusted are those that exist within your movement. As someone commented somewhere along the way, the difference between the left and the right isn't that the left doesn't have its own ideological information sources but that they see these as an addition to those sources that do actual news-gathering, not a substitute for them. Progressives like Rachel Maddow , but nobody thinks that if you watch her show, you now no longer need to read the newspaper or listen to NPR to understand what's going on in the world. Quite a few conservatives, on the other hand, believe that if you're listening to Rush Limbaugh or watching Glenn Beck ,...

The People of the Book.

I have a lot of disagreements with conservatives, but there's one thing I'll give them credit for: their support of the publishing industry. I give you the top-selling non-fiction books of 2009, from Publisher's Weekly (h/t Tyler Cowen ): 1. Going Rogue: An American Life. Sarah Palin. Harper (2,674,684). 2. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment. Steve Harvey. Harper (1,735,219). 3. *Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government. Glenn Beck. Threshold. 4. *Liberty & Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. Mark R. Levin. 5. True Compass: A Memoir. Edward M. Kennedy. Grand Central (870,402). 6. Have a Little Faith: A True Story. Mitch Albom. Hyperion (855,843). 7. *It's Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor. Joel Osteen. Free Press. 8. The Last Lecture. Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow. Hyperion (610,033). 9. Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books...

It's Not That They Don't Know. It's That They Don't Care.

You don't have to expect every politician to be a serious policy wonk to believe that he or she ought to have a grasp of at least the basics of the key issues they debate. And if they don't have that grasp at the beginning of a debate, then they ought to by the end of it. If there's one thing we can say about the last year, it's that we all learned a lot about health-care policy. Or at least most of us did. At the Atlanta Journal-Constitution , Jay Bookman discusses an interview the paper's editors did with Sen. Mitch McConnell , the leader of Senate Republicans, and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (h/t Steve Benen ). It contains an extraordinary passage concerning banning exclusions for preexisting conditions and the individual mandate. As we all know, if you're going to forbid insurers from excluding people with preexisting conditions, you have to have a mechanism for keeping people from gaming the system by waiting until they get sick to get insurance. If you don't, costs enter a "death...

Sarah Palin is the Fox News of Politicians.

People are beginning to notice that Sarah Palin has morphed into something quite new: not so much a political figure as a kind of multimedia brand, one for whom actual politics seems almost ancillary to the generation of greater and greater celebrity. When you look at Brand Palin, she begins to look like the Fox News of politicians. I don't mean that so much in an ideological sense. Like Palin, Fox has a following that is small as a portion of the population but is extremely passionate and consumed with resentment at the "elites" who supposedly look down their noses at them. Serious people of all political stripes think both are kind of a joke, a badge which Palin and Fox wear with honor. Fox beats its cable competitors, but its top-rated show, "The O'Reilly Factor," gets about 3 million viewers a night, or one out of a hundred Americans. Likewise, most Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Palin and think she's unqualified to be president. Both Fox and Palin have the ability to...

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