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

The Craziest Quote You'll Read Today.

No, it's not a new head-scratcher from some Tea Party candidate. It's Barack Obama , in an interview with The New York Times : In an hour-long interview with Times White House correspondent Peter Baker, Mr. Obama predicted that his political rivals will either be chastened by falling short of their electoral goals or burdened with the new responsibility that comes from achieving them. "It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible, either because they didn't do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them," Mr. Obama said. "Or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way." Obama's not an idiot, so I find it hard to believe that he actually believes this. Often in the past I've argued that his nods to bipartisanship are mostly...

Getting Beyond Hypocrisy

I've often lamented, right here on TAPPED, the degree to which campaigns ignore the stuff government actually does (so-called policy) and obsess over the "character" of candidates, focusing on questions like which one is the bigger liar or who loves America more. These things are largely irrelevant -- whether someone likes a little eye of newt in their stew doesn't tell you whether they'll be a good legislator or not. But they're not completely irrelevant -- we do want to know whether candidates are criminals, or incompetent, or mistreat their employees, and that sort of thing. So I'm a bit conflicted about the travails of Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller : Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller said Monday he will not answer any more questions about his personal background for the rest of the campaign. ... He has said the Alaska media is reporting what he considers irrelevant issues, such as his past government benefits. That includes coverage of the fact he and his wife obtained...

Will the "Foreign Money" Attack Work?

One of the main leitmotifs of conservative criticism of Barack Obama since he began running for office is that there's something foreign about him -- maybe he wasn't born here, maybe he doesn't worship America's dominant religion, and even if those things aren't true, well, he's just somehow not American. These attacks have always been false, ugly, and xenophobic, and there isn't much evidence that they really worked, other than to rile up people who would never have supported him anyway. Which is why it's a little odd to see Democrats, and some of their supporters, seizing so heartily on the charge that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which plans to spend $75 million in its biennial effort to elect Republicans, is getting money from foreign sources. Look at this ad from the Democratic National Committee: "It appears they've even taken foreign money to influence our elections," the ad says, as Chinese currency piles up. The evidence for this claim is somewhat thin -- the Chamber does...

Their Own Facts

How basic misunderstandings about government benefit the right

Sarah Palin, who called President Barack Obama's health plan "downright evil" because, she alleged, it would create "death panels" denying care to the neediest Americans (AP/Stephan Savoia)
When someone is propagating falsehoods about a matter of public debate, someone else will often say, "You're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts." In other words, we can only have a reasonable debate if we agree on what the facts are. We may disagree about which facts are more important than others, but if you believe, say, that the Affordable Care Act establishes "death panels" before which seniors and the disabled have to beg for their lives, and I assert that the act does no such thing, we won't be able to have a fruitful discussion about whether the ACA is a good thing until we can get past the factual disagreement. Without a common set of facts, we can't come to conclusions, because all we will do is argue about what's true. This is a long-standing problem in politics, American and otherwise. When we look, however, at the most widespread factual inaccuracies that pervade politics today, there is one common thread: Almost all of them redound to the benefit of the...

I Really Don't Approve of This Message.

At the risk of becoming a broken record (Note to the kids: "records" were a method of playing music in the last century), let me point out this bit of maddening advertising from Wisconsin Senate candidate Ron Johnson , the latest candidate to make "I know nothing about this job, so please hire me for it" the centerpiece of his campaign: Wow -- I'm shocked, shocked that there are no "manufacturers" in the Senate, while there are 57 lawyers. How can they even turn out the ball bearings they're supposed to be making? Oh wait -- they don't make ball bearings in the Senate. What was that they make again? I remember: Laws! Why should lawyers be involved in that? I'm not saying you have to be a lawyer to make a good lawmaker. But it's not completely irrelevant. On the other hand, manufacturing plastics -- what Johnson does -- is pretty irrelevant. Ron Johnson may know how to "create jobs" through the selling of plastics, but that's very different from knowing how to create jobs through the...