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

The Fox News Tribe

More than ever, conservatives are working to cast liberals as the other.

T.V. host Glenn Beck addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington on Saturday Feb. 20, 2010.(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
If you watch cable news, you probably know the story of Jack Cassell, the Florida doctor who demonstrated his displeasure with the recently passed health-care reform by posting a sign on his office door reading, "If you voted for Obama, seek urologic care elsewhere." Never mind that Cassell knew nothing of what was in the bill: This was a policy so abominable that he could no longer associate in a professional capacity with anyone who had voted for a politician he didn't like. I doubt that very many doctors will begin partisan practices. Yet if there is a common strain running through the unusually vituperative debates of the Obama presidency, it's that the opposition becomes intensely tribal in short order. We could be talking about health care, economic policy, or a Supreme Court nomination, and before long, conservatives will be arguing not just that the administration and its supporters are wrong but that they are the Other -- an alien group with whom there can be no compromise...

Why Conservatives Still Judge Obama by the Job He Did After College.

There are a lot of things Republicans don't like about Barack Obama . So why is it that they can't let go of the "community organizer" thing? I raise this because Louisiana Sen. David Vitter proclaimed the other day at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, "I'll take a TV personality over a community organizer any day." Presumably, he meant that he likes Sarah Palin more than Obama. But as Steve Benen points out , he won't be taking a TV personality over a community organizer, he'll be taking a TV personality over a sitting president, who happened to work as a community organizer when he was in his 20s. Conservative Republicans like Vitter seem to believe that having once been a community organizer is a sin that Obama should never be able to escape (kind of like Vitter's patronage of the prostitution industry, say). But community organizing is something Obama did after college. As a point of comparison, after she finished college, Sarah Palin was a sports reporter at a small-...

Spinning the Stevens Replacement.

In case you haven't had your fill of contentious debates and preening senators, we've got a Supreme Court vacancy to fill. The big question (after whom Obama will nominate) is just how Republicans will decide to oppose the nominee. Will they launch a filibuster, as Adam discusses , and validate everything Democrats have been saying about "the Party of No"? Will they use the nomination to whip up populist anger at the administration? As Matt Yglesias noted , "Evaluating the nominee on the merits doesn't seem to be an option." What I think we can agree on is that the strategy will be pretty much the same, no matter who the nominee is. And what might that strategy be? Let's look at some possibilities: 1. The nominee is a [cue scary music] judicial activist who will impose his/her own liberal views instead of applying the law. This argument is going to be somewhat hard to make, since the most pressing legal issue at the moment for Republicans is their demand that the courts overturn a law...

What Just Ain't So.

Mark Twain once said something to the effect that it's not what you don't know that gets you into trouble; it's what you know for sure that just ain't so. This is what I'd like to add to the discussion going on among Jon Chait , Julian Sanchez , and Matt Yglesias on the right's "epistemic closure," the belief that the only sources of information that can be trusted are those that exist within your movement. As someone commented somewhere along the way, the difference between the left and the right isn't that the left doesn't have its own ideological information sources but that they see these as an addition to those sources that do actual news-gathering, not a substitute for them. Progressives like Rachel Maddow , but nobody thinks that if you watch her show, you now no longer need to read the newspaper or listen to NPR to understand what's going on in the world. Quite a few conservatives, on the other hand, believe that if you're listening to Rush Limbaugh or watching Glenn Beck ,...

The People of the Book.

I have a lot of disagreements with conservatives, but there's one thing I'll give them credit for: their support of the publishing industry. I give you the top-selling non-fiction books of 2009, from Publisher's Weekly (h/t Tyler Cowen ): 1. Going Rogue: An American Life. Sarah Palin. Harper (2,674,684). 2. Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment. Steve Harvey. Harper (1,735,219). 3. *Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government. Glenn Beck. Threshold. 4. *Liberty & Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. Mark R. Levin. 5. True Compass: A Memoir. Edward M. Kennedy. Grand Central (870,402). 6. Have a Little Faith: A True Story. Mitch Albom. Hyperion (855,843). 7. *It's Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor. Joel Osteen. Free Press. 8. The Last Lecture. Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow. Hyperion (610,033). 9. Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books...

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