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

Don't Mess with Nancy Pelosi.

If there's one reason to think that health-care reform will still succeed, it has to be because of the speaker of the House. Here's what she said Thursday, via Greg Sargent : You go through the gate. If the gate’s closed, you go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole-vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in. But we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people. Kind of reminds me of Sean Connery saying, "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They put one of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue." And not the sort of thing we've been hearing from tremulous Democrats over the last week and a half. Throughout this process, Pelosi has had a pretty good handle on her caucus. Engineering the passage of the original House bill was no mean feat, with both Blue Dogs and members of the Progressive Caucus issuing ultimatums and threatening to walk away if their demands weren't met. Pelosi employed the "catch and release" technique...

Devolution In the U.K.

A few weeks ago, in a column about the politicized nature of science in America, I noted that according to international data , Americans express far greater skepticism about evolution than citizens of any other Western democracy. Well, it looks like there are some in the U.K. who would like to catch up, and they're working hard to get into positions of influence in medicine and science: A growing number of science students on British campuses and in sixth form colleges are challenging the theory of evolution and arguing that Darwin was wrong. Some are being failed in university exams because they quote sayings from the Bible or Qur'an as scientific fact and at one sixth form college in London most biology students are now thought to be creationists. Earlier this month Muslim medical students in London distributed leaflets that dismissed Darwin's theories as false. Evangelical Christian students are also increasingly vocal in challenging the notion of evolution. [...] Most of the next...

Where Was the Narrative?

There's no law requiring that State of the Union addresses be dull, overlong lists of provisions and proposals, but it has certainly come to seem that way.

When it comes to State of the Union addresses, the opinions of the chattering classes are usually wrong. For one thing, for all the predictions of its potential to change the political landscape, the speech tends to have only the tiniest effect on the president's approval ratings. For another, though the wags always complain that the speech was terribly long, the public never seems to mind (the one president who regularly got a bump from his SOTUs was Bill Clinton, who could drone on with the best of them). There's no law requiring that State of the Union addresses be dull, overlong lists of provisions and proposals, but it has certainly come to seem that way. It's more habit that makes the State of the Union what it is. Every executive branch department has input and pushes to see its programs mentioned and praised. The speechwriters labor to include as wide a panoply of issues as possible, both foreign and domestic. The addresses tend to include a raft of proposals to demonstrate...

The Courage of Their Convictions.

There are a lot of reasons to feel despondent at what's been going on with Democrats in Congress and the White House over the last week. What's remarkable is just how easy it was for them to get sent into this spiral of fear. I shouldn't have to keep repeating this, but all of this chaos – talking about abandoning their agenda, the president seemingly reconfiguring his entire political strategy – is happening because their 20-seat advantage in the Senate was reduced to an 18-seat advantage . Can you imagine what would happen if they suffered a really big defeat? It reveals not just how little faith Democrats have in their beliefs, but also how little faith they have in their own political abilities. Considering the disillusionment with Obama now spreading in progressive circles, particularly over his proposal for a spending freeze, Greg Sargent noted that "fairly or not, liberals saw in him someone who would use his extraordinary communications skills to expand the field of what's...

Spreading Health Care Panic.

This is most likely a case of reporters taking a couple of comments made by senators, and over-interpreting them to come to a dramatic conclusion. But it seems designed to make liberals' heads explode : Democrats Put Stop On Health Overhaul WASHINGTON — With no clear path forward on major health care legislation, Democratic leaders in Congress effectively slammed the brakes on President Obama 's top domestic priority on Tuesday, saying that they no longer felt pressure to move quickly on a health bill after eight months of setting deadlines and missing them. The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid , Democrat of Nevada, deflected questions about health care. “We’re not on health care now,” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about it in the past.” He added, “There is no rush,” and noted that Congress still had most of this year to work on the health bills passed in 2009 by the Senate and the House. These same two reporters told us in Tuesday's paper, "Seeking to avert the collapse of major...

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