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

Looking at Gadhadi

After Osama bin Laden was killed, I wrote a somewhat contrarian piece arguing that the government should release a photo of his body. I then went on NPR's On the Media to talk about it, alongside the New Yorker 's Philip Gourevitch, who was rather contemptuous of my position (audio here , transcript here ), but I stuck to it. And today, grainy video footage of Moammar Ghadafi's body has emerged. OTM asked me what I thought -- you can read my response here , as well as see the video if you haven't already, but here's what I had to say: This is a very different situation from the Bin Laden question. First, in that instance there were very few pictures of Bin Laden, and so an image of his end would be all the more important. Second, any photograph the U.S. government released would have been carefully composed to represent the American victory over him. In Gadhafi's case, the images are from cell phones -- they're much more spontaneous, chaotic, and violent. They don't display the...

Herman Cain is Pro-Choice!

The other day, I sorted through Herman Cain 's recent muddled comments on abortion and concluded that he was just unaware that this is an issue that involves laws, both current and potential, that affect what people can and can't do. Every time he got asked about abortion, he would answer as if he were advising a young woman not to get one. So he explained that he believes life begins at conception, and no one should get an abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. But he was far less clear on what he thinks the law ought to be. But now we may be getting some progress. Via Dan Amira , here's Cain explaining his pro-choice -- yes, pro-choice -- views on abortion: CAIN: No, it comes down to it's not the government's role or anybody else's role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you're not talking about that big a number. So what I'm saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. Not me as president,...

More Reagan than Reagan

The two leading stories on the nightly news for the past week have been the Occupy Wall Street protests and the Republican primary race, a contrast so vivid that the reports could be coming from two different planets. First, we see thousands of citizens so frustrated and angry with economic inequality in the U.S. that they have organized to protest in hundreds of cities around the country. Then we see a group of contenders for president agree that the only economic problem we have is that wealth and influence are not sufficiently concentrated at the top. For the GOP, the protests renew an old dilemma. When Ronald Reagan became president, Democrats charged that he would was guided by the theory of "trickle-down economics," in which benefits are bestowed upon the wealthy, and the blessings eventually trickle down to the rest of the country — i.e. , the 99 percent. Republicans replied indignantly that this phrase misrepresented Reagan's agenda; they preferred "...

Comedy of Errors

Presidential debates may be sort of silly, but no more than the rest of the presidential campaign.

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, Pool)
In 2008, Barack Obama's campaign ran circles around John McCain's with its deft use of social media, empowering supporters to become active participants. Four years before, Howard Dean shocked everyone into understanding that the Internet could be more than a novelty and could actually generate money and votes. Looking back even further, Bill Clinton and the Democratic National Committee bought a wave of television advertising starting in 1995, beginning the campaign before he even had an opponent. Every election or two features new ways for campaigns to communicate with voters, and every time we wonder if the new medium or method will fundamentally transform presidential campaigning. Yet here we are in 2011, watching news on our smartphones and checking the campaign's progress on Twitter, and debates -- those overly staged, artificial, and often absurd events -- seem more important than ever. Just ask Rick Perry. A few short weeks ago, he was the savior of the Republican Party, a guy...

Failing School

Getting rid of the Electoral College would not give either party a decisive advantage. It would just mean (gasp!) that whoever gets the most votes wins.

When Republicans won sweeping victories at the federal and state levels in 2010, they no doubt realized their position was a fragile one. The economy goes up and down, policies can be popular or unpopular, and the public's will is fickle. To stay in power, there's no substitute for rigging the game, which they set out to do by passing laws through state legislatures that make it more difficult for people who are likely to vote for Democrats to cast votes at all. But last week we saw something new. Republicans in Pennsylvania have proposed changing the way the state allocates its electoral votes to give two votes to the statewide winner of the presidential race and grant the other votes one-by-one to the winner of each congressional district. At present, this system is used only in Maine and Nebraska, which each have only four electoral votes. Since the Republican legislature and governor in Pennsylvania are also now redrawing district lines, they could manage to give next year's...