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 Practice of Politics

We talk about "change" as something systemic, when we actually just want the policy pendulum to swing back our way.

Barack Obama campaigning for president (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
There are few things in politics more absurd, or more reliably recurring, than the candidate for Congress who proclaims earnestly that once elected, he or she will "change the way they do things in Washington." Just you wait, you logrolling legislators, you leeching lobbyists, you blundering bureaucrats -- once freshman Rep. Smith gets to town, the old order is going to come crashing down! Within a few months, the representative stops talking about "change" and assures his constituents he knows how to work the system to their advantage. Before you know it, he's being challenged by a new politician, who proclaims her hatred of politicians and promises to deliver the "change" for which everyone has been yearning. This week, the members of the 112th Congress say their oath of office. Nearly one in four House representatives is new, and almost all of those promised that their arrival would sweep the winds of change through the Capitol. But if that's what you're expecting, you shouldn't...

2012/2016 Speculation.

Over the weekend, Newsweek speculated that John Huntsman , the former Utah governor who is now the ambassador to China, might be considering a run for the White House in 2012. This was greeted with a round of "Oh, please" by most people, not just because Huntsman is a relatively moderate, non-crazy member of the GOP, but because he actually took a job working for Barack Obama for heaven's sake, which means he probably hates America. Not only that, he speaks fluent Mandarin, and we all know that knowledge of a foreign language is evidence of insufficient love for this land of ours. (Don't tell anyone, but Mitt Romney speaks -- cover the children's ears -- French . He learned it the same way Huntsman learned Chinese, on his mission for the Mormon church.) James Fallows, the wisest person in Washington, says that Huntsman "is indeed a very attractive long-term national prospect for the Republicans, whenever they have gotten to the other side of their current Palin/Limbaugh/Gingrich phase...

Best of TAP 2010: Scola on Washington's I.T. Guy.

In this article from our July/August issue, Nancy Scola profiled Carl Malamud , a fascinating gadfly few people have heard of. Malamud, who has the distinction of having hooked up the first White House internet connection back in the 1990s, is crusading to get every government document online and accessible to the public. Scola's piece not only introduces us to a memorable character, it helps us understand the brief but critical (and uneasy) relationship between the federal government and the information revolution. -- Paul Waldman

The Year In: Health Care.

When 2010 began, "death panels" were all the rage, Scott Brown was soon to gain Ted Kennedy 's Senate seat, and health care reform looked to be on the ropes. Within a few months, however, reform, the culmination of decades of work by progressives, became law. But the debate didn't end when the Affordable Care Act was signed, and TAP covered it from almost every angle imaginable: We celebrated the final passage of reform, because while the bill could have been better, we now have a foundation for a comprehensive and humane health-care system. TAP took a long look at what it will take to implement reform and detailed the role grassroots organizing played in the success of the Affordable Care Act. Finally, for all the skepticism about reform, we argued it will eliminate the anxiety and fear so many live with because of the tenuousness of coverage. Is there life left in the public option? Jacob Hacker , whose idea it was in the first place, said yes, and one state (Connecticut) is moving...

Liberal Media Manipulation.

Progressives often lament the right's ability to move its preferred stories from the fringe into the mainstream. Got something you want to get on the agenda? Just let Rush Limbaugh and the folks at Fox know, and they can generate a tornado of outrage that quickly draws the attention of more legitimate sources. The passage of the 9/11 responders bill shows that now and again, the left can do it too. The left doesn't have the same system the right does, and its infrastructure isn't nearly as comprehensive or coordinated, but it can be effective. In this case, it was Jon Stewart who got the ball rolling by bringing some of those responders suffering health effects of their work at Ground Zero on to his show. Stewart's advocacy for the bill drew attention not just because it was plainly right, but because it was unusual for him to be so explicitly pushing for passage of a piece of legislation. After he drew attention to it, other media outlets (even Fox!) decided to cover it, which...