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

Damage Control for Democrats

Are Democrats doomed? Not necessarily -- but they need to stop acting like it.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The midterm elections for Congress are a little more than nine months away, and they can go one of two ways. Democrats can lose some seats, but not so many that the fundamental balance of power in Congress is changed. Or they can be obliterated, lose the House, and maybe even lose the Senate as well. If they're going to avoid disaster, they have a few things they need to do. Ignore the pundits and reporters. When Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, the news media immediately proclaimed it The Most Important Political Event In History. You would have thought the GOP won 20 or 30 seats in that single election. Now, every time a Democratic politician walks down the halls of the Capitol, some reporter is sticking a microphone in his or her face and asking if the Massachusetts election means that all Americans have rejected the Democratic agenda and it's time to capitulate to Republican demands. The conventional wisdom that Democrats are doomed is wrong. But if they accept its premises (as...

The Worst Approach on Health Care.

Ezra Klein tells us the following, about breaking up the health-care bill, which makes me want to scream: I should say, at the outset, that I'm not a fan of this idea. But there's no denying that breaking the health-care bill into different pieces is receiving serious consideration. Nothing is decided, but according to House aides, there would be at least four bills: one containing tax credits to help people up to 400 percent of poverty purchase insurance and insurance regulations; a second focusing on changes to Medicare, everything from pilot programs to the closing of the doughnut hole; a third including the Medicaid expansion; and a fourth with miscellanea like the health-care workforce and wellness and prevention programs and IT. Funding would be scattered across the bills in order to satisfy pay-go requirements. Yeah, you know what we need now? Another few months of ugly debate on health-care reform. I'll bet Republicans won't want to engage in any of that demagoguery anymore,...

The Strategists Are Not the Story.

Over the weekend, we learned that David Plouffe , who managed Barack Obama 's presidential campaign, will be returning to Washington to oversee the Democrats' efforts to avoid an electoral disaster in the fall. This is a very good idea. It helps to have one person who is clearly in charge of all their campaign efforts, and Plouffe is the best person for the job. Even before he designed what could well be the most skillfully executed presidential campaign in history (with the caveat that the most recent successful campaign always seems to have been the most skillfully executed campaign in history), Plouffe was regarded within campaign circles as one of the sharpest operatives Democrats had. And as someone who has previously run the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and been involved in races at all levels all over the country, Plouffe has the knowledge and experience to do the job. Perhaps most important, because he has the president's ear and is a famous person whom others...

Scott Brown: I Hope to Be As Ineffectual As John McCain.

This is encouraging news from our newest senator: Sen.-elect Brown navigated the Russell Senate Office Building on Thursday for his first appointment with Sen. John McCain . A National Guardsman, Brown said in the interview that McCain was his senatorial model. "I have great respect for Senator McCain," Brown said of the Arizona Republican, who was one of his first establishment backers. "I've known him for a while, long before this, and you know he is a war hero and kind of a maverick independent thinker." He added, "I've told my leadership already that I'm not a rubber stamp for anybody." Wait a minute -- McCain is a war hero? And a maverick? You don't say. That kind of insight into people is what got Scott Brown where he is today. But is McCain the best model for a new senator? John McCain has served in Congress for 27 years now. In that time, he managed to produce one major piece of legislation -- the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as McCain-Feingold -- which,...

Fear Will Keep the Local Systems In Line.

Mark Schmitt knows more about campaign finance than just about anyone, so when he says that the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United , though awful, may not cause the sky to fall right away, I want to believe him. But there's an angle on this story that makes me really concerned, and it's not the one most people think about when they think about campaign finance. When the Court ruled that corporations are now essentially free to engage in as much electioneering as they want, they didn’t just invalidate the federal laws prohibiting such activities. They also invalidated the state and local laws to that effect. What this ruling does, on all levels, is bring a new level of fear to a professional class – politicians – not known for their courage. Even more than before, they will now go about their work every day knowing that if they get on the wrong side of the wrong corporation, they could get stomped. As Michael Waldman (no relation) pointed out yesterday, the potential sums...

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