Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. 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

Sarah Palin Knows Just What She's Doing

(Flickr/ geerlingguy ) The latest edition of New York magazine contains an essential article for fans of the political/media/cultural juggernaut that is Sarah Palin . Titled "Palin, Inc.," it details the ways Palin has built her brand, and her bank account, since leaving office halfway into her first term as Alaska governor (indeed, the article is fairly clear that the desire to make money was the real reason she stepped down). As you think about the Palin phenomenon, something becomes clear. She, her opponents, and her supporters are locked in a cycle of mockery and affection, disdain and faith, that must keep turning around for her to continue being what she is. Many people have recommended that Palin spend some time boning up on policy -- or just current events -- so that when she's asked questions by reporters she can come up with coherent answers that go beyond, "You know, America and freedom over there and such." But that would be exactly the wrong thing for Palin to do. Imagine...

Share Not With Me Your Purchases.

Back in the early days of the Internet, a college student set up a webcam in her dorm room and delivered a live feed to the world of everything she was doing -- eating, sleeping, studying, even changing clothes. It caused quite a stir, with lots of beard-scratching commentary about how this new technology would transform our ideas about the private and public selves. Although lots of people found the experiment interesting, no one thought that thousands of other people would be doing the same thing. But we may be inching in that direction. From today's New York Times : Mark Brooks wants the whole Web to know that he spent $41 on an iPad case at an Apple store, $24 eating at an Applebee’s, and $6,450 at a Florida plastic surgery clinic for nose work. Too much information, you say? On the Internet, there seems to be no such thing. A wave of Web start-ups aims to help people indulge their urge to divulge — from sites like Blippy, which Mr. Brooks used to broadcast news of what he bought...

Obama Didn't Create the Tea Party.

The prevailing narrative about our current political moment goes something like this: Obama took office facing some large challenges. Then he overreached, by doing all kinds of big-governmenty things. This provoked a backlash, and now we're fighting over it. We see the latest version of this narrative in today's David Brooks column , one of surpassing more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger Brooksness. As a moderate, Brooks is deeply saddened by all the arguing that's going on. "Just as America was leaving the culture war and the war war, the Democrats thrust it back into the government war, only this time nastier and with higher stakes," he laments. The problem with this narrative is that it assumes that if Obama had taken some other course of action, the Tea Partiers would never have gotten so mad, and we would be having a much more civil discussion. But that's just absurd. Let me offer just one piece of information. The latest poll from Brooks' own paper, one that included some extended...

Federal Government Meanders Into 21st Century.

Like many a candidate before him, Barack Obama rode to electoral victory on the promise of "Change." We could debate endlessly about whether that promise has been delivered, but there's one area where it's definitely in process. They have a substantial way to go, but the feds have made lots of progress on getting their Web presence into the 21st century. Until recently, most federal Web sites looked utterly craptastic, like the FCC's Web site (in their defense, it's under revision, and the new one will surely be better). There are hundreds of federal sites, and some of them are still awful, but many of them are looking quite modern, and even usable. And when the Treasury Department unveiled its jazzy new $100 bill, they invested in a site with computer-generated video and interactive graphics: It would be easy to look at this kind of stuff as a waste of taxpayer money. But it isn't at all. We want people to interact with their government, and that means the government's Web presence...

Is the Tea Party Movement Overhyped? Yes.

In a timely corrective, Jonathan Martin and Ben Smith of the Politico point out that the Tea Party is getting a lot more attention that it really warrants: [GOP consultant Mike] Murphy, who calls the attention "absolutely ridiculous," sees it of a piece with what has become the biennial compulsion in the political community to hold up a newly-discovered, and always pivotal, bloc of voters; Like the Angry White Males, NASCAR Dads, Soccer Moms of election cycles past – only on steroids. "There is this urge to give any political development a catchy name and a picture," he lamented, adding the familiar Republican complaint that well-educated, left-leaning, coast-dwelling reporters view middle America through an elitist lens. "These young reporters fly to the wilds of Oklahoma or Kentucky, find a bunch of folks in Uncle Sam suits hollering and come back thinking they've got some hot scoop," Murphy said. Quite so. And one thing we see from Tea Partiers themselves is a zeal to portray their...

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