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

Tea Party vs. (Certain) Corporations.

In their ongoing project to expand their influence, the Tea Party -- or in this case, Dick Armey 's FreedomWorks -- is about to start targeting corporations for their bottomless wrath. "We are going after the rent-seeking corporations feeding at the public trough," says the organization's spokesperson. Well, sort of. Actually, they're going to be naming and shaming companies that lobbied in support of the stimulus bill, which will no doubt be followed by further targeting of companies too friendly to Democrats in some other way. They certainly won't be going after the who-knows-how-many corporations that procure costly favors of one kind or another from the government -- don't hold your breath for them to target ExxonMobil over the billions in taxpayer subsidies oil companies receive, for example. But they've even got a poll showing that when you tell conservative Republicans that a company supported the stimulus, they turn against the company. I'm guessing the actual economic impact...


As you probably know, Fox News employs many of the 2012 Republican presidential contenders as "contributors," which mostly means they come on the air periodically, get tossed a few softballs by a Fox host, and talk a bit about what a jerk Barack Obama is. You may have wondered, just what is this free air time worth? Media Matters does the math : Mike Huckabee stands out because he's got his own weekend show on the network. But it seems to me the real winner here is Rick "Man-On-Dog" Santorum , who is all but running already. Unless you're a Fox viewer, you probably haven't thought about him in quite some time. Without this gig, Santorum would have almost no ability to make anyone pay attention to him, and thus the possibility of a presidential run would be even more ridiculous than it already is. Santorum's strategy seems to be to make himself the guy conservative culture warriors should support if Sarah Palin decides not to run. It's a long shot, but it would be even longer without...

Destroying the Village

Just how far will Republicans go in opposing Obama?

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
When the International Olympic Committee announced last October that London would host the 2016 Olympics, the reaction on the right was truly remarkable. America's bid for Chicago to host the event -- for which President Barack Obama had personally lobbied -- fell short. Anything that could be seen as a defeat for Obama, even if it was also a defeat for America, was cause for celebration. According to a writer for The Weekly Standard , "Cheers erupt[ed]" in the magazine's offices when the news was announced. And these are the serious conservatives, the ones with a direct line to Republican leaders. The spirit on the right that says anything that is bad for Obama must be good has only grown stronger in the year since. Now that Republicans will be holding one house of Congress, they have to decide how far to go in undermining the president. Early signs are not encouraging. It is the opposition's job to oppose, of course, and a political party must balance two sets of motivations. On one...

Elite Rhetorical Agenda-Setting.

How does an argument move from the "fringe" to the mainstream? The easiest way is if those already considered mainstream figures in good standing begin making it. Right now, people on the left are making an argument -- that Republicans are intentionally doing everything they can to sabotage the American economy (at least by standing in the way of efforts that might improve it) in order to maximize their chances of winning the White House in 2012. Let's put aside for the moment the question of whether Republicans are, in fact, doing this. As of yet, this argument hasn't moved into the mainstream. Kevin Drum explains : But here's what's really remarkable: virtually no one in any position of authority has picked up on this since [Stan] Collender first suggested it. On the Republican side, practically everyone from the party leaders on down is thoroughly convinced that Barack Obama is one or more of: a socialist, an appeaser, a Chicago thug, a racist, a would-be killer of grandmas, and a...

Smackdown 2012: Republican Establishment vs. Palin.

Back in 2003, when the Howard Dean campaign was building up extraordinary momentum and capturing the fascination of the press, in large part because it harnessed this new-fangled thing called "the Internet," a movement among establishment Democrats popped up to stop this interloper. It was thought that he was too brusque, his politics were too far left (not only had he opposed the Iraq War, which all of the other candidates had supported, he even signed a bill providing civil unions for gay people!), and if he won the Democratic nomination, he would surely go down to defeat. So they started attacking him, and some even went so far as to raise money and run ads in Iowa against him. David Frum, keying off an evisceration of Sarah Palin in The Weekly Standard of all places, sees something similar happening: Politicians love to present a narrative in which they and their band of outsiders battle an entrenched party establishment. In most cases, the stories are self-serving myths: party...