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

It's Not the End of the World

Why we can survive a Republican Congress

Days before the midterms, President Obama makes a final get-out-the-vote push for Democratic candidates in Bridgeport, Connecticut. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, many Republicans went berserk. The governor of Texas began talking about seceding from the Union, religious conservatives literally saw the new president as the Antichrist and decided Armageddon was around the corner, and people even started listening to Glenn Beck. Now, faced with the likelihood of a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives (and the small but real possibility of the Senate turning Republican as well), Democrats have to decide just how freaked out to be. There's a lot to be concerned about, and it would be naive to say that having Republicans back in possession of a house or two won't bring some very bad things. But we shouldn't get too carried away. This too shall pass. This is probably not the prevailing opinion on the left, even among those not normally inclined toward panic. "This is going to be terrible," Paul Krugman wrote last week. "In fact, future historians will probably look back at the 2010 election as a...

Stimulicious Rail Projects Go Forward.

Image from the Department of Transportation A lot of the debates we'll have over the next two years are going to sound like this: OBAMA: I'd like to do something to help the economy. GOP: Tax cuts? Because we were hoping to pass some tax cuts. OBAMA: Well actually, I was thinking about a program to... GOP: Hell no! But in the meantime, it's nice to know there's still some money to spend on investments. The other day, the Department of Transportation announced a new round of grants for high-speed rail construction. Here are some highlights (via Popular Science ): California received more than $901 million, including $715 million for the construction of new high-speed rail lines in the Central Valley. The state has made significant investments in passenger rail that have led to remarkable ridership growth; Florida received $800 million for the Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail corridor. The state's long-term vision is for a high-speed rail line that connects Tampa, Orlando, Miami, and...

The Unhappy Warrior.

One thing most successful presidential candidates demonstrate is a sunny disposition. Americans may want candidates who feel their pain, but they also like them to be hopeful and optimistic. Nobody wants to vote for Debbie Downer. It's one of those axioms (along with "the taller candidate always wins") that the more optimistic presidential candidate always seems to prevail. Which is what makes Sarah Palin 's latest outburst so curious. Palin seems to be moving closer and closer to a presidential run, yet as she does, she seems to grow angrier and angrier. Not that it's anything particularly new -- her political identity was always built on resentment -- of elites, and urbanites, and liberals, and the media. I'm sure that every time she uses the term "lame-stream media" her supporters cheer, even if to the rest of us it just sounds juvenile and mean. This time, it concerns a recording of some local news folks in Alaska, either joking around about what will happen at an event for Senate...

Tomorrow's Fox News Reports Today.

Via Andrew Sullivan , we get this amusing clip of a reporter for a Texas television news program, amazed at the way some San Franciscans are enjoying themselves as they float in McCovey Cove awaiting World Series batting practice. "They're smoking weed!" he says again and again: View more news videos at: . They all think this is pretty funny, rather than being contemptuous. But tomorrow, Fox is going to have lots and lots of camera crews covering the Stewart/Colbert rally, and you can bet they'll be on the lookout for any signs of dirty hippies. If anyone on the mall starts smoking pot, Sean Hannity will be watching. And they'll pick out the craziest people there to interview. It's unclear what story the rest of the media will tell about this event, but Fox will be telling a story of a how a bunch of out-of-touch elitists gathered for a "hatefest" directed at Real Americans. In case you were wondering. -- Paul Waldman

Boring Explanations for Elections.

Part of the reason pundits and journalists don't much like the analysis of political scientists about elections is that political science can be kind of boring. Political science tells us, for instance, that structural factors are much more important than the actual conduct of campaigns. If you want to know what's going to happen in an election, just use a few variables, particularly economic ones like real income growth or unemployment, and you can predict with a fair degree of accuracy what the outcome will be. From the pundit's perspective, that removes all the interesting stuff. It leaves you no reason to talk about the spectacle of politics, the inept candidates and shocking ads and hilarious gaffes. It doesn't allow room for the armchair strategizing ("What the Democrats ought to do is...") that is the pundit's stock in trade. The political scientist responds, well, sorry about that, the truth is the truth. While the political scientists may not be able to tell you what's going...