Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger, and a contributing editor. 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

Barack Obama, the President of Ordinary Joes.

Greg Sargent already pointed out the absurdity of this Washington Post article , but there's something else of which we should take note. The article asserts that Obama is "a rare president who comes from the middle class, yet people still perceive him as disconnected from it. As he arrived in Nashua, nearly two-thirds of Americans believed that his economic policies had hurt the country or made no difference at all; almost half thought he did not understand their problems." As Sargent notes, according to the Post 's own polling , 57 percent of Americans say Obama "understands the problems of people like you," while 42 percent -- that's the "almost half" -- say he doesn't. Seems pretty good, right? And in fact, if you look back at their polls on George W. Bush -- remember him, the reg'lar fella who liked nothing more than chewing on some pretzels while watching football after a vigorous session of brush-clearing? -- Obama looks even better. Turns out that the high Bush achieved on...

America, In Present and Future Tense.

E. J. Dionne had a talk with Joe Biden on the subject of American superiority (Biden is strongly in favor), which brings up yet another way in which the right and the left are often talking past each other when they appear to be talking about the same thing. Progressives tend to find conservative jingoism distasteful, which conservatives sometimes interpret to mean that progressives hate America and want it to fail (indeed, one out of four Republicans believes " Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win"). The problem is that the two groups think about the subject of America and its awesomeness in different ways. Conservatives are far more likely to think that loving your country means you should, as often as possible, proclaim how awesome it is. These proclamations can be general ("U.S.A.! U.S.A.!") or specific ("We have the best health-care system in the world!"). The latter can get you into trouble if it's factually wrong, not just because you look foolish but because it actively...

Will DADT Repeal Be No Big Deal?

Over at Foreign Policy , Israeli scholar Danny Kaplan has an article about Israel's experience since it lifted its ban on gays serving in the military back in 1993. The piece's title -- "They're Here, They're Queer, It's No Big Deal" -- pretty much says it all: The United States and Turkey are now the only NATO military powers that do not allow gays to serve openly, but Israel and other countries have shown that the participation of gay soldiers in combat units presents no risk for military effectiveness. What's more, acknowledging their presence might even improve unite cohesion. It is important to understand that even without restrictions, most gay soldiers do not "come out" in combat settings. Only a few of the soldiers I have interviewed confided their sexuality in friends from the unit, and they often did so shortly before leaving their position. Most of them developed strategies to separate between their various personal and social identities. One soldier, a gay activist prior...

Beyond the Creative Class

TAP talks with Christopher Carrick, an urban planner with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, about regional inequality and if there is life after Richard Florida.

(Flickr/Ohine)
Our last print issue included an article on Richard Florida, urban-planning guru and author of the 2002 bestseller The Rise of the Creative Class . Florida's ideas about what drives economic growth -- particularly the presence of a vibrant artistic community, the means to incubate technology, and a large gay community -- were embraced by cities around the country, many of whom paid Florida as much as $40,000 to speak. These days, Florida is saying that many of those cities are beyond hope. Reeling from the effects of the recession, local governments are now struggling to find a path toward sustained prosperity. I spoke about the present and future of American cities with Christopher Carrick, an urban planner with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board in Syracuse. I suppose what was so attractive about Richard Florida was the idea that he had uncovered a foolproof path to economic and cultural vitality. What is the current thinking about what cities can, and...

The Danger of Hiding Behind the Generals.

A key part of the conservative argument for keeping the ban on gay Americans serving in the military is that military leaders supposedly tell us that removing the ban will cause untold chaos. The problem comes when those military leaders begin to change their minds, as John McCain is finding out. His previous position was that "the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, 'Senator, we ought to change the policy,' then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it." Oh, well. Now that the military leadership has done just that, McCain decided that he has to support the ban because Colin Powell does. Seems that may not be quite the ace in the hole he was hoping for: During the hearing, McCain told the committee that "the reason why I supported the policy to start with is because Gen. Colin Powell, who was then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is the one that strongly recommended we adopt this policy in the Clinton administration. I have not heard...

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