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

The Coming Conservative Crack-up

The Republicans' split over the bailout bill is the latest example of the party's internal divisions. Unless the GOP figures out what it stands for, it's headed for civil war and electoral disaster.

In Washington over the last week, there were lots of ideas about what a bailout of Wall Street ought to look like. But none had less chance of becoming law than the plan put out by the core of the House GOP caucus, the conservatives known as the Republican Study Committee.

The Ideology Gap

The current financial crisis reveals how inadequate McCain's conservative ideology is and gives Barack Obama a chance to build a progressive consensus not seen since FDR.

As the economic meltdown of 2008 continues, some are hearing echoes of the Great Depression. And if this is another 1929, the next president could well be another Franklin Roosevelt. That's what Barack Obama seemed to be aiming for when he said last Friday, "This is not a time for fear. It's not a time for panic. It's a time for resolve and a time for leadership. I know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis, because we have done it before. That's what we do as Americans."

How to Win a Presidential Debate

The debates, for better or worse, may decide the outcome of the election. Here's how the press will decide who won.

It's beginning to look a lot like 2004, and 2000 before that: a presidential election that is, as Dan Rather used to say, "as hot and tight as a too-tight bathing suit on a too-long car ride back from the beach," with pressure building for the debates that begin Sept. 30. Given how many people watched the conventions, it's a good bet that this year's debates will reverse the downward trend in viewership seen over the years (the last Kennedy-Nixon debate was watched in 61 percent of homes, while only one of the three debates in 2000 cracked 30 percent) and pull in a huge audience.

The Politics of Contempt

John McCain is declaring war on the media, the elites, really, anyone who's not you. The Republicans' thirst for contempt is limitless.

When John McCain secured his party's nomination at the beginning of this year, many of his admirers in the media offered assurances that because the Republicans had chosen a man of such impeccable integrity, so different from every other politician, this campaign would not be like those we have gotten used to. It would be respectful, it would be substantive, it would be so high-minded and civil as to make Pericles himself weep with joy.

Oh well. "Cultural affinities," wrote the Los Angeles Times at the end of the Republican convention, "are now central to the campaign strategy of GOP presidential nominee John McCain." No kidding.

Character Study

What Obama did so well in his convention address was taking the raw material of policy and turning it into an indictment not just of what John McCain wants to do but of who John McCain is.

Barack Obama has given lots of great speeches -- about his personal story, about hope, about change, and about race, to mention a few of his topics. Last week, I asked whether Obama would use his convention speech to offer an argument for progressivism and a critique of conservatism, pointing to a commencement address he gave in 2005 at Knox College as a model.