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

The Private Option

The Affordable Care Act won't feel like a government program. That could be a problem for Democrats.

Residents of the Culpepper Garden Assisted Living Center attend a 2006 news conference about Medicare. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
When Congress was debating health care reform in 1993, conservative strategist Bill Kristol wrote a now-famous memo counseling Republicans that they must prevent the passage of reform, lest it "relegitimize middle-class dependence for 'security' on government spending and regulation … revive the reputation of the party that spends and regulates, the Democrats, as the generous protector of middle-class interests … [and] strike a punishing blow against Republican claims to defend the middle class by restraining government." The problem Kristol foresaw -- and today's Republicans saw with Barack Obama's health care reform -- was not merely that Americans would reward Democrats for the passage of a beneficial program, but that health care reform would bind them to government for all their lives, undermining the ideological case Republicans make. Many of those who supported the passage of the Affordable Care Act earlier this year (myself included) agreed. I wrote that once the bill passed,...

Politics v. Governing.

One of the common sentiments I'm seeing around today is, "Enjoy this last gasp of success, Democrats, because your life is about to get hellish." Which is true, in a way. But we should remember that the next two years will be uncomfortable politically , but far less so substantively . Yes, it's possible that Republicans could shut down the government, which will have some very bad effects. And they might be able to force cuts in vital programs, which would be bad. But I'll believe those things when I see them. More likely is that the bulk of their efforts will be on things that will embarrass President Obama and make it more difficult for him to win re-election. It will be nearly impossible, however, for Republicans to garner much in the way of real policy victories, in the sense of moving the government or the country in a more conservative direction. Anything they do achieve is likely to come courtesy of the five conservatives on the Supreme Court. Democrats, on the other hand, just...

The Culture War Ain't What It Used to Be.

Jonathan Bernstein makes an excellent point about the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell: [T]his issue will now promptly go away, entirely. Oh, we'll have a bit of reporting on implementation, but seriously: does anyone think that Republicans are going to run in 2012 on re-instating DADT? Or, even less plausibly, on re-instating the ban that DADT replaced? Forget it. It's possible to believe that a DADT vote could be used in a GOP primary down the road, but it's utterly implausible to believe that the policy would ever be revived, no matter what happens in the 2012 (or any future cycle) elections. With the possible exception of John McCain , pretty much every conservative knew they were going to lose this argument eventually. And many of them know they're going to lose the argument on marriage equality, too. As Jon Chait asks , "it was only six years ago that Republicans used the bogeyman of gay marriage to help win a presidential election. Does anybody expect that to happen again?"...

Theater in the Least Deliberative Body.

As the lame-duck session of Congress nears its end, there are a few big agenda items looming. The House has to approve the tax compromise, and the Senate has the new START treaty with Russia and the repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy banning gays from serving honestly. Members of the Senate are now beating their breasts about whether there's "enough time" to do both. This is despite the fact that it has already been established that both the treaty and DADT repeal have enough votes to pass. Granted, there are some procedural things that have to happen. But there's plenty of time to get all those in. What some senators are worried about is whether there's enough time for debate. According to TPM, if there's only time enough for one of the bills in the Senate, the White House prefers it to be the ratification of START. But this is all premised on the idea that there is some amount of "debate" in the Senate that is sufficient, and if the time allotted for that "...

A Racial Map of Your Neighborhood.

Matt Ygesias pointed to The New York Times ' extraordinary interactive block-by-block census map , and I have to second his judgment of its awesomeness. You should really take a look at your city to see what it looks like. You can go anywhere in America. Since Matt made a point about D.C., I'll give you a picture of a place I used to live, Philadelphia: The green dots are whites, the blue dots are blacks, the yellow dots are Hispanics, and the red dots are Asians. What's extraordinary is how you can find places where one street creates a crisp dividing line, with one group on one side and another on the other. See that diverse area to the left of the "P" in Philadelphia? That's University City, where Penn is. But keep going west and you're quickly in West Philly, almost entirely black. Go the other direction, and you're in Center City, mostly white. Head south past South Street on the west side of Center City, mostly black, with a growing Asian presence. But jump east across Broad...