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.

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Open up the New York Times op-ed page today, and you'll see that David Brooks is deeply disappointed in Barack Obama:

But as recent weeks have made clear, Barack Obama is the most split-personality politician in the country today. On the one hand, there is Dr. Barack, the high-minded, Niebuhr-quoting speechifier who spent this past winter thrilling the Scarlett Johansson set and feeling the fierce urgency of now. But then on the other side, there’s Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who’d throw you under the truck for votes.


At long last, Barack Obama is on the air with his first ad of the general election. Take a gander:

McCain's Desperate Debate Gambit

John McCain knows his campaign is in trouble, and so he's trying to pressure Barack Obama into a long series of town hall meetings. But speeches are the real way the president appeals to the public.

Few controversies of the presidential campaign seem less momentous once they conclude than the traditional “debate over debates.” One campaign pushes for more debates, the other pushes for fewer, and the two perform a ridiculous tango of dudgeon, disappointment, and expectations-gaming. As with so much else in this long, long campaign, the debate over debates has started early this year.

John McCain is pressing Barack Obama to join him for ten town hall-style debates, while the Obama campaign has countered with an offer of five debates, only one of which would be a town hall. But, posturing aside, how much will the debates, and the rest of the campaign, really tell us about the next presidency?

The Soft Art

Obama's defining political skill may prove to be his ability to parry attacks and turn them to his advantage. It kept his campaign moving forward and upward when others would have found themselves unable to go on.

The POW Dodge

John McCain maintains that he doesn't exploit his captivity in Vietnam for his campaign, but in reality he can barely talk about anything else. That's fine, but McCain's service should be the start of a conversation -- not the end of one

When John Kerry made his Vietnam heroism a centerpiece of his 2004 presidential campaign, his colleague John McCain thought it unwise. "I said, ‘Look, you shouldn't talk about Vietnam because everybody else will. Let everybody else do it,'" McCain told the Washington Post. "In my [2000] campaign, as you know, I didn't talk about it because I didn't need to."