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

Why Massachusetts Doesn't Matter

Even if Brown defeats Coakley for Ted Kennedy's seat, there is a path -- more than one, actually -- for Democrats to lunge across the finish line and pass health-care reform.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
A specter haunts Democratic-led Washington. It's the specter of a special election in Massachusetts, the bluest of blue states, not just slipping through Democrats' fingers but in the process dooming health-care reform. But it doesn't have to -- even if things go badly in the Bay State. In case you haven't heard, Massachusetts voters will go to the polls today to choose someone to serve the remaining three years of the late Ted Kennedy's Senate term. The Republican candidate, state Sen. Scott Brown, is running a surprisingly strong campaign, while the Democrat, state Attorney General Martha Coakley, has been lurching from one bumble to another. A spate of polls in the last week showed the race to be essentially a dead heat. This isn't just any Senate race. At stake is the Democrats' 60th vote in the Senate (if you count Joe Lieberman), which enables them to overcome the Republican filibusters that now occur on virtually every meaningful bill. Within the next couple of weeks, both...

The Ideological Vacuum

E.J. Dionne tells us something important: It's also striking that most conservatives, through a method that might be called the audacity of audacity, have acted as if absolutely nothing went wrong with their economic theories. They speak and act as if they had nothing to do with the large deficits they now bemoan and say we will all be saved if only we return to the very policies that should already be discredited. […] Yet the truth that liberals and Obama must grapple with is that they have failed so far to dent the right's narrative, especially among those moderates and independents with no strong commitments to either side in this fight. The president's supporters comfort themselves that Obama's numbers will improve as the economy gets better. This is a form of intellectual complacency. Ronald Reagan 's numbers went down during a slump, too. But even when he was in the doldrums, Reagan was laying the groundwork for a critique of liberalism that held sway in American politics long...

Back to the Dark Side.

Last night, the eighth season of the Fox hit 24 debuted. The show is ridiculous from top to bottom, but I'll admit it – I enjoy it. And I feel bad about it. 24 isn't just a guilty pleasure. When I plow through a pint of Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, I may not be doing my waistline any favors, but I'm not really hurting America. When I watch 24 , on the other hand, I feel like I’m doing Dick Cheney's work for him. The issue, of course, is torture – the endless and repeated use of torture by the show's heroes. In real life, the "ticking time bomb" scenario virtually never occurs. On 24 , on the other hand, the time bomb is always ticking. And that means that it won't ever be long before Jack Bauer screams "Tell me where the nuke is!!!" and puts a bullet in somebody's knee, or gives them a nice jolt of electricity. Weirdly, though, last night's premier contained not a single torture scene (even though one person did get impolitely interrogated). But it can't be long before viewers will be...

Rudy!

Faced with an electorate that is generally dissatisfied yet still overwhelmingly Democratic, Massachusetts Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown decided to call in renowned ferret opponent and terrorism ignoramus Rudy Giuliani . This could actually be quite a mistake on Brown's part. After the 2008 presidential campaign, Giuliani went in the public mind from being the hero of 9/11 to being, well, what he always was: a pompous jerk with virtually no understanding of issues, who seems to divide the world into people he’d like to screw over, and people he talks to like they're six years old. Perhaps Brown has forgotten just what a disaster Rudy's campaign was. The reason Giuliani could hurt Brown isn't so much because people don't really like him much, but because, having run for the GOP nomination for president, Giuliani's endorsement will serve to remind Massachusetts voters that Brown is a Republican. You know, those guys who want to grind government to a halt and fight against...

Cadillac Tax Gets All Sorted Out.

So the White House and congressional leaders got together with union representatives, and came to an agreement on the so-called "Cadillac tax" provision of health reform, the one labor was opposing because it could tax their benefits. Some of the details, as Jonathan Cohn explains , are as follows: -- Exempting vision and dental benefits from the calculations of plan value -- Raising the threshold at which the tax kicks in, from $23,000 a year for a family plan to $24,000 a year. (The threshold for individuals goes from $8,500 to $8,900.) -- Making additional adjustments to the formula based on age and gender -- Allowing unions to shop for health plans through the new insurance exchanges Those are some pretty modest changes. And to top it off, collectively bargained agreements (i.e. union contracts) would be exempt until 2017. As Igor Volsky observes , while this looks like a big favor to a special interest, it also makes a lot of sense – since union contracts typically get...

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