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

Playing the Long Game

Obama realizes that transformative presidents look past day-to-day disasters.

(White House/Pete Souza)
On March 4, 2008, Hillary Clinton won surprise victories in primary elections in Texas and Ohio. At first, it seemed to be a momentous shift of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, making Barack Obama's victory seem not so inevitable after all, as some had believed it to be since he won the Iowa caucus two months before. But it quickly became apparent that Clinton's popular-vote wins were almost meaningless. In the contests that took place that day, Obama had actually garnered more delegates than Clinton. His march to the nomination continued unabated. By executing a carefully planned strategy of delegate accumulation and worrying less about the campaign's daily ups and downs, Obama bested a more seasoned rival to become the Democratic candidate. That ability -- to see the entire contour of a lengthy political battle -- may be the most important factor in Obama's success. It got him to the White House, and it enabled him to achieve the most meaningful piece of social...

What's With All the Hating on Congressional Staff?

One of the oddest things we've seen in recent weeks is the way Republicans have taken to lashing out at congressional staff. First you had Newt Gingrich arguing that health-care reform couldn't be done right because it was in the hands of staffers "who have never had a real job, who spent their entire life being arrogant to visitors from back home, who end up thinking they know a lot because they stay up until 3 o'clock working on a word processor, and who write legislation as though they have some contact with reality." Then you had John Boehner imploring his banker friends, "Don't let those little punk staffers take advantage of you and stand up for yourselves" by fighting against financial reform. Now you've got Rep. Devin Nunes , who apparently is pledging the congressional fraternity Beta Tau Nutball ( Michele Bachmann , Rush Chair), complaining that Democrats are employing "staff thugs" who do things like monitor votes. It makes you wonder what the people who work for these...

Would Things Have Been Different If Hillary Clinton Had Won?

Remember during the 2008 primary campaign how Obama supporters argued that one reason not to elect Hillary Clinton was that she would unite Republicans against her? And that since they hated her so much, they'd wage a scorched-earth campaign against everything she tried to do, miring the country in years of bitter and angry conflict, full of insane and venomous charges that would force the administration to defend itself against the conspiracy theories of an increasingly unhinged opposition? And that they'd work their supporters up into such a lather of hatred that we might see a repeat of the early 1990s, with the rise of right-wing anti-government populism that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing? Good thing we dodged that one. I bring this up not as a criticism of Obama ’s ceaseless efforts to reach across the aisle and treat Republicans like grown-ups who might have an interest in governing. But this outcome shows that some time ago, conservatives stopped believing that any...

The Difference Between Ideology and Partisanship

The blogosphere has been abuzz with the strange case of David Frum , who just got canned from his cozy sinecure at the American Enterprise Institute, probably the second-most-important think tank on the right (after the Heritage Foundation). Frum has an excellent conservative pedigree. He was a speechwriter for George W. Bush , among other things, and he remains extremely conservative today. However, over the last year or so he has been making a name for himself as a reasonable conservative, one willing to call out the Republican Party when he thinks it's making a mistake. And that, apparently, is the problem. The last straw for AEI was apparently this post on Frum's blog, where he said, "Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s," and went on to lay the blame at the all-or-nothing strategy employed by the GOP leadership. Frum's crime was not an ideological one but a partisan one. Apparently, not only is it forbidden to...

Are Your Neighbors Fulfilling Their Constitutional Duty?

The census Web site has long been dreadful, a circa-1995 dump of a place. Which is a pity, because they have some of the richest data in the world, yet to get at it you have to go through layers and layers of menus until you reach ... a downloadable excel file. If they had the will (and the time, and the money), they could make their site a cornucopia of informative, accessible, and interactive infographics. But they don't. So it's nice to see that at least for the 2010 version of the census, the agency is doing some good stuff. The 2010 census site is all Obama-fied, with soothing blue tones, a blog , and friendly videos. There's even an interactive map , which allows you to see how your state, county, city, or even census tract is doing on returning its census forms. Here, for instance, is a zip code I chose at random (12345, which happens to be Schenectady, New York). You can see how they're doing compared to the country and their state, and how they did in 2000. Keep sending in...

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