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

The Future of Health Care Misconceptions.

In today's New York Times , Brendan Nyhan cautions Democrats not to convince themselves that now that health-care reform has passed, people will stop believing in death panels and socialist takeovers. "While some of the more outlandish rumors may dissipate, it is likely that misperceptions will linger for years, hindering substantive debate over the merits of the country's new health care system. The reasons are rooted in human psychology." He points to some compelling research that he has performed, indicating that people continue to believe untrue things even in the face of correction. And sometimes, telling them the truth actually increases their certainty about the false thing they believe (e.g. that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, or that Bush's tax cuts decreased the deficit). The most plausible explanation is that, faced with a refutation that undermines a belief in which they're ideologically invested, people exert cognitive effort to argue against it and...

Don't Count Romney Out Yet.

Mitt Romney is in a bit of a pickle. The Democrats just passed a health-care reform bill that all Republicans agree will transform America into a freedomless hellscape. Yet it's almost identical to the one Romney pushed through in Massachusetts when he was governor. He's even on record defending the individual mandate, which is the least popular part of the reform, and therefore the one on which Republicans are hanging their attack. From the standpoint of today, it looks like the 2012 GOP primary may be fought on the ground of who hates "Obamacare" the most, an argument that Romney can't possibly win. Not that he won't try -- when it was passed, he issued a statement calling it "an unconscionable abuse of power" (how dare the Democrats pass legislation!) and said, "President Obama has betrayed his oath to the nation." This has led some to assume that there's no way Romney can win the Republican nomination. Josh Marshall , for instance, calls Romney "toast" and says , "Unless Health...

Democracy -- Deal With It.

Republicans have had many different reactions to the passage of health-care reform. But there seems to be a common strain running through them that might be described as "This can't be happening!!!" Just as so many of them couldn't bring themselves to see Barack Obama as a legitimately elected president, many can't bring themselves to see a piece of legislation they so vehemently opposed as having been legitimately enacted into law. So they're continuing to complain about procedural details and trying to come up with new procedural rationales to undo it. Among them, the absurd claim that the fixes couldn't be passed through reconciliation because through some tortured logic they might affect Social Security (the Senate parliamentarian quickly ruled against them on that one). They're filing lawsuits to try to get the Supreme Court to declare the reform unconstitutional. They say over and over again, with increasing desperation, that the American people are opposed to the reform -- as...

The Value of Journalistic Introspection.

We all have a tendency to justify our mistakes, convincing ourselves that either it wasn't a mistake at all or that we did the best anyone could have done given the exigencies of the moment. We throw good money after bad and good energy after bad, all in the service of convincing ourselves that we thought and acted properly. So it's refreshing when someone comes out and says, "I was wrong." Along those lines, Josh Green of the Atlantic has something interesting to say about Nancy Pelosi : In 2005, I wrote a short, fairly negative profile of Pelosi and Harry Reid called "The Odd Couple." My contention was that Democrats, then at their Bush-era nadir, needed revolutionaries to lead a comeback, and that Pelosi and Reid, ineffectual party lifers, didn't fit the bill. ("The vapid response team," Charlie Cook dubbed them in my piece.) "Both apprenticed as whip," I wrote, "a job that requires corralling and cajoling fellow congressmen to support the party line." I thought they lacked the...

The Future of Advertising.

If you use Google's Gmail, you probably felt a moment of unease upon learning that, in exchange for getting this free and extremely well-designed service (note to other e-mail providers: organizing messages into threads is the greatest thing ever), you'd have to give up a bit of your privacy. Namely, Gmail scans your messages, picks out keywords, and then puts up ads in your e-mail it believes are relevant to those keywords. For instance, if someone mentions China in a message to you, while you're reading it, there will be ads on the right side of your screen for travel companies offering tours to China. Most people very quickly stop noticing the ads, but if you stop to think about it, it's kind of creepy -- particularly since most of us treat e-mail the way we would a phone call, saying all kinds of personal things on the implicit assumption that no one's really listening. But now I've found that Google is stalking me. I'm considering buying a new phone, and in that process I...

Pages