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

You Don't Love America Like I Love America

The Republican nominating contest will be a battle over who loves this country the most, and how much Barack Obama hates America.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (Flickr/theqspeaks)
If you're running to replace a sitting president, your campaign needs a theme beyond "throw that bum out," a vision that helps define you and where you think the country should go. You may not have noticed it, but nearly all the Republicans looking to win their party's nomination to run against Barack Obama have settled on the same motif: America is awesome. You were hoping for something a little more meaty? Sorry -- the GOP watchword of the moment is "American exceptionalism," and the candidates seem to be banking their campaigns on it. If you've been paying attention to the incipient election efforts, you've heard that phrase with increasing frequency. For the next year and a half, Republicans will be talking a lot about how special America is. Any good campaign theme contains an implicit contrast, and the one the Republicans want to draw is plain: They believe in American exceptionalism, and Barack Obama doesn't. We are not just great, this argument goes; we are superior to every...

Obama Should Show the Photo

Our final image of Osama bin Laden should be of him in defeat.

(Flickr/The White House)
This afternoon, news outlets reported that President Barack Obama has decided against releasing any photos of Osama bin Laden's body, even though CIA Director Leon Panetta indicated just hours before that the pictures would be made public. It may seem ghoulish or too triumphant. "The fact of the matter is this was somebody who was deserving of the justice that he received," Obama said on CBS's 60 Minutes , which will air this Sunday. "And I think Americans and people around the world are glad that he's gone. But we don't need to spike the football." Many people in the administration, not to mention members of Congress from both parties, also fear that the photos could spark an anti-American backlash. A strong case, however, can be made that the American public and the world at large ought to see this image. In recent years, we've debated the publication of photos of flag-draped coffins, civilian and military war casualties, and scenes of torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. But...

Beat Notes From the Town Hall

Are journalists treating the anti-budget-slashing town halls the same way they treated the anti-health-care town halls in 2009?

Steve G. Jozefczyk of Franklin, Wisconsin, gets out of his front-row seat and walks up to Congressman Paul Ryan. (AP Photo/The Journal Times, Mark Hertzberg)
In the last week or so, we've started seeing scenes from town halls across the country very similar to the angry town-hall meetings inspired by the health-care reform bill in August 2009. This time, Republican members of Congress are the targets. At one town-hall meeting after another, they are getting pointed and sometimes angry questions about their support of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's plan, which would slash government spending and which 235 of the 241 House Republicans approved in a symbolic vote (the budget would never pass the Senate). Opponents are asking congressmen and women why they supported a plan to turn Medicare into an inadequate voucher program, slash various kinds of spending that benefit the poor and middle class, and at the same time give the wealthy a shower of tax cuts (you can see some video highlights here ). This raises questions not just about the representatives but also about the press. Every day, reporters and editors make a series of...

The Debt-Ceiling Doomsday Device

Republicans threaten to bring down the economy if they don't get what they want.

Even if you're a political junkie, chances are you never gave much thought to the debt ceiling before the last couple of months. It was nothing more than an occasion, once a year or so, for a brief and little-noticed protest vote on the part of some members of the opposition party. They could make a floor speech about the administration's misplaced priorities, proclaim their hope that federal spending and taxes would be reordered to their liking, cast their not-so-dramatic no vote, and move on to the rest of the day's business. Members of both parties were able to cast this protest vote (as President Barack Obama did as a senator in 2006) safe in the knowledge that the increase would pass and no actual economic damage would result. But today, for the first time we stand in a place where Congress might actually fail to raise the debt ceiling, an action that could have truly catastrophic consequences. The debt ceiling will be raised -- of that, there is no question. The question is what...

Absolutely Intended to Be a Factual Column

It takes satire to hold a lying politician accountable.

Sen. Jon Kyl, of Arizona (AP Photo/Matt York)
Something unusual happened last week: A politician suffered harm to his public reputation for telling a lie. It happens less often than it ought to -- sit through even a single afternoon of cable news or a session on the floor of one of the houses of Congress, and you're bound to hear multiple false claims without anyone jumping up to object. Only rarely does anyone pay a real price for shading the truth or even telling an outright whopper. And the way this offender -- Republican Sen. Jon Kyl -- came to his comeuppance was what made it notable. Goodness knows, journalists have been looking for ways to get politicians to tell the truth for as long as politicians have been lying. Their efforts have been noble, serious, conscientious, and largely ineffective. So what happened to Kyl is something worthy of celebration. Friday before last, the Arizona senator went to the floor of the Senate to argue that Planned Parenthood should be banned from receiving Title X funds, which pay for a...