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

Put Your Filibuster Where Your Mouth Is.

Now that it's looking like there's not much they can do to stop health-care reform (if it does go down, it will be because of recalcitrant centrist Democrats), Republicans have taken to warning their opponents that if HCR passes, it will mean electoral doom for Democrats. So here's a question some intrepid interviewer might ask as a follow-up when they repeat this: OK, Mr. Republican Senator, if you think that Democrats will suffer a stunning defeat if they pass health-care reform, why not end your filibuster? Then, instead of the House passing the Senate's version of HCR, the Senate could pass the House's version, and it would be done. You could await your stunning victories in 2010 and 2012, and then repeal the bill before most of the key provisions take effect in 2014 (or actually 2013, under the House's bill). Then you'd have your smashing political victory, and the dreaded socialist takeover would never have occurred. If you really believe what you're saying, wouldn't that be the...

The Future of Health-Care Rhetoric.

What will Republicans say if health-care reform passes? This is a question I've begun to ponder, since the things conservatives have been saying up to this point -- "death panels," reform is a "government takeover of one-sixth of the economy" -- have been totally unmoored from reality. But if reform actually passes, those arguments won't have much of an effect. It's easy to make people afraid about an uncertain future, but it's much harder to convince them that the present they are experiencing is something other than what it is. Once people find themselves going to the same doctors and dealing with the same insurance companies, it will be hard to tell them their medical decisions are now being made by jackbooted government bureaucrats. So how are Republicans going to shift from, in the words of Dick Morris , " Obama 's plan is going to kill you" (yes, that's an actual quote) to "Obama's plan has turned your life into a living hell"? I'm not really sure, but my guess is that...

It's Not About the Ideology.

Just in the past few years, we've seen the political pendulum swing wildly back and forth between the left and the right, from the post-9/11 conservative heyday, to the progressive revival in 2006-2008, and now, supposedly, to a new dawn for the GOP. Andrew Sullivan laments how "ideology has infiltrated everything , it has saturated public and private, it has invaded even something sacred like religious faith, in which the mysteries of existence have been distilled in writing or even understanding the churches into a battle between 'liberals' and 'conservatives.'" He considers this antithetical to true conservatism, which "is a resistance to ideology and the world of ideas ideology represents, whether that ideology is a function of the left or the right." Fair enough, but I think what Sullivan is really objecting to is partisanship masquerading as ideology. Think about it this way: If you wanted to seriously examine the ideology of, say, Sarah Palin , what would you come up with? Well...

Post Romantic

Despite its current financial woes, the Postal Service is still the best mail delivery service around -- and one of the government's bigger successes.

(U.S. Postal Service/Robert Indiana)
What can you get for 44 cents these days? You can get a fun-sized candy bar. Or 3 ounces of coffee. Or maybe one AAA battery, if it's on sale. Or, you can have someone come to your house, pick up a letter you've written, take it 3,000 miles across the country within a few days, and deliver it to your Aunt Millie's door. That's something you can get for 44 cents. You may have heard that the United States Postal Service is having financial problems and that its service might be significantly altered as a result. According to its latest annual report , the volume of mail it delivered declined 13 percent last year, from 203 billion pieces in 2008 to 177 billion pieces in 2009. This dramatic drop was partly due to the recession, which meant that companies were saving money by mailing out fewer catalogs and solicitations, and partly because of the growing use of e-mail. In any case, it meant less revenue. Now, the USPS has removed mailboxes in many places to simplify its collection task,...

Our Descent Into Godless Communism Continues.

James Fallows spotted something that everybody else seemed to have missed: Obama gave a speech last week (on health care, in this case), and didn't end it by saying, "God bless America." As Fallows explained earlier, America-hating crypto-commies like George Washington , Thomas Jefferson , John Adams , and every president through Jimmy Carter (himself an evangelical Christian) somehow managed to make speeches without this coda. Then as Fallows says, " Ronald Reagan began using the phrase to mean 'The speech is over now,' and ever since then politicians have seemed afraid not to tack it on, perhaps out of fear that we'll have the aural equivalent of phantom-limb pain if we don't hear the familiar words." The first presidential use was actually Richard Nixon 's , but Reagan made it the thing you're supposed to say at the end of every speech. These blessed politicians never say what they're actually intending, however. Is the speaker beseeching God to bless the country in the future, or...

Pages