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

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...

Rush Limbaugh Makes Me Sad.

Rush Limbaugh is happy that Obama is having political troubles, which is as it should be. But this remark is kind of odd: "This is the first time in his life there is not a professor who can turn his C into an A, or to write the law review article for him he can't write. He is totally exposed. There is nobody to make it better," Limbaugh said. Does Limbaugh really think that Obama just isn't that smart, and he got where he is because people gave him a pass? You'll recall that conservatives also like to mock Obama for the fact that when he has a prepared statement to read, he uses a teleprompter. He does this in some situations, like at the start of a press conference, when previous presidents would read the statement off pieces of paper placed at the lectern. Yet those conservatives who like to joke about this take his preference for looking up at his audience rather than down at his lectern as evidence that Obama isn't smart enough to talk extemporaneously. It would be no use to...

The Dumbest Paragraph You'll Read on Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

You'll be shocked to learn it comes from Bill Kristol . Outraged that President Obama would offer a moral justification for removing the ban on gay Americans serving in the military, Kristol writes this: Here is contemporary liberalism in a nutshell: No need to consider costs as well as benefits. No acknowledgment of competing goods or coexisting rights. No appreciation of the constraints of public sentiment or the challenges of organizational complexity. No sense that not every part of society can be treated dogmatically according to certain simple propositions. Just the assertion that something must be done because it is in some abstract way "the right thing." I realize there's an impulse to say about a statement that you disagreed with, "This one statement is the entirety of the opposing ideology! In a nutshell!" I've probably said something similar myself at some point. But let's take this bit of ridiculousness piece by piece. 1. "No need to consider costs as well as benefits."...

Obama the Ideologue?

One of the most interesting moments of President Obama 's tete-a-tete with House Republicans on Friday was when he said, "I'm not an ideologue." He was greeted with laughter, which led him to reply, somewhat incredulously, "I'm not." I'm personally sure that what was going through his head when he heard the snickers was, "Are you frackin' kidding me?" -- yes, he's a sci-fi geek -- "How many compromises do I have to make before you people stop thinking I'm a socialist?" In our common parlance, an "ideologue" isn't just someone who has an ideology in which they believe firmly -- it's someone who is blind to practical realities and the power of reason and simply pursues that ideology to extreme ends. I happen to think that no reasonable observer of politics could conclude that Barack Obama is an ideologue. To take the example most readily at hand, a liberal ideologue would have insisted that if we are to reform health care, it's single-payer or nothing. And yet Obama advocated a reform...

The Battle Over Don't Ask, Don't Tell

By advocating for a kinder and gentler form of marriage inequality, conservatives may have accidentally ceded the argument for keeping gays out of the military.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
The one-year mark is about the time when partisans can reasonably begin expressing their disappointment with the president they elected, and anyone who spends time talking to progressives knows that their frustration has grown in recent weeks. So it was a welcome relief to liberals when President Barack Obama recommitted to a major campaign promise in his State of the Union address: He was finally moving to end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy, under which thousands of qualified service members have been kicked out of the military. If this effort succeeds in ending a rather shameful chapter in our history, it will be because of the shift in public opinion since the policy was instituted in 1993. Much of the credit for that belief shift goes to conservatives themselves. As the debate over gay rights became increasingly dominated by the marriage issue, conservatives retreated so completely to the bunker of "preserving traditional marriage" that they ceded the ground...

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