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

Our Opponents Are Not Guilty of Everything.

Remember when that statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad in the early days of the Iraq War, back in 2003? If you're like many liberals, you probably encountered the theory that the entire thing was staged by the Pentagon to look like a spontaneous uprising of cheering, grateful Iraqis. I remember reading something about how according to knowledgeable people, some of the crowd looked Kurdish, so the suspicion was that they had been bused in for the occasion. A couple of weeks ago, Peter Maass -- a journalist who was there at the time -- published a fascinating exploration of the event in The New Yorker , and he paints a picture that's slightly different. It's worth reading the whole thing, but the summary is this: The picture that was presented to the world was in fact highly misleading, but it wasn't because of some sinister plan hatched by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld . The involvement of U.S. troops was largely spontaneous. But because it happened in Firdos square,...

Tim Pawlenty Will Crush the Alien Invaders With His Bare Hands.

You thought the former governor of Minnesota and soon-to-be presidential candidate was a boring Midwestern milquetoast? Well strap in and prepare to have your mind blown: I think what Pawlenty needs is to have all his speeches delivered through a microphone that gives it that distortion, as though he's broadcasting from a bunker between episodes of hand-to-hand combat. And maybe have F-16s do a flyover every time he steps into an Iowa living room to make his pitch. While TPM compared it to the trailer for "Armageddon," I think this may be the better comparison: Let me go out on a limb here and say that this will not be the last moment of unintentional hilarity in the 2012 Republican primary. -- Paul Waldman

Let's Get 2012 Started!

On the virtues of a long presidential campaign cycle

Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama,campaigning in Ohio in 2008 (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Four years ago, the press was full of complaints that the presidential campaign had started way too early. It was preposterous, we were told, to have candidates trudging through the snow in Iowa and New Hampshire asking for voters' support in primary contests more than a year away. This, though, was supposed to be the new reality. With an increasing amount of money spent on the campaign, a more complex media environment, and sophisticated new tools to target and persuade voters, we were just going to have to suffer through presidential campaigns that lasted a full two years. Yet here we are at the end of January, with the 2012 election a mere 93 weeks away, and not a single major political figure has declared his or her candidacy for the presidency. The only one who has even formed an exploratory committee is talk-radio host Herman Cain , who is not exactly what you'd call "major." It's enough to make a political junkie cry out: Let's get this show on the road! I realize I may be...

The Candidate's Bubble.

Kevin Drum says something that I sort of agree with, but I think begs for some elaboration: And while we're on the subject of why not a single Republican has announced a presidential candidacy yet — yep, that's the subject — isn't the answer obvious? It's because they all know Barack Obama is as good as a shoo-in in 2012. Unless something cataclysmic happens, the only reason for any Republican to run is either as a vanity candidate or to get practice for 2016. "Shoo-in" is a bit of an overstatement, but it's true that incumbent presidents don't usually lose unless they screw up royally or unless the economy is headed down. Remember that even in Ronald Reagan 's 1984 re-election of "Morning in America," unemployment was over 7 percent; what mattered was that it was heading down. And the economy is likely to continue to move in the right direction over the next year and a half, even if slower than we'd like, making Obama -- a pretty good campaigner, if you'll remember -- very difficult...

A Healthy Mandate Discussion.

In today's New York Times , Ross Douthat advises Republicans to "transform Obamacare from within. With the right changes ... it could become the kind of reform that conservatives claim to have been looking for all along." I'm guessing the chances of congressional Republicans moving from their current "Burn it down!" position to one of working constructively to devise effective policy solutions are virtually nil -- after all, doing so would mean accepting that the basic structure of reform is in place and isn't going anywhere. But this does suggest one area where Democrats might invite their counterparts to come up with a solution everyone can embrace: the individual mandate. Let's not forget that unlike many provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the mandate is a means, not an end. The end is getting everyone (or nearly everyone) into the system so you can insist that insurance companies insure everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions, and at premiums that don't discriminate...