Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a contributing editor for the Prospect and the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Who's Afraid of New Media?

Obama hasn't shied away from engaging with the new vanguard of media. And the only people who seem bothered by this choice? Old-media reporters.

On Jan. 25, 1961, the dashing new president of the United States delivered the first presidential press conference to be televised live. Amid numerous questions about tensions with the Soviet Union and upcoming domestic legislation came this query: "Mr. President, there has been some apprehension about the instantaneous broadcasts of presidential press conferences such as this one, and the contention being that an inadvertent statement is no longer correctible, as in the old days, could possibly cause some grave consequences. Do you feel that there is any risk or could you give us some thought on that?" Imagine that -- a reporter, concerned that the president might commit an embarrassing gaffe that the public would hear. But there weren’t many of those, as the informed and charming Kennedy. But what became clear in that press conference and subsequent ones was that John F. Kennedy didn't have much to worry about. Standing before the White House press corps, Kennedy was informed,...

Can a Click Replace a Glance?

Newspapers offered a serendipitous reading experience that online formats haven't managed to replicate.

To realize just how bad things have gotten in the newspaper industry, consider the following list of casualties: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ended its print edition; it now exists only on the Web. The Rocky Mountain News shut its doors completely (the paper's Web site sits frozen in its Feb. 27 version, like a watch that stopped at the moment of a nuclear explosion). The parent company of The Philadelphia Inquirer filed for bankruptcy. In a last-ditch bid to keep their paper from folding, workers at The San Francisco Chronicle accepted a painful new contract that could cut the newsroom staff by a third. All these events occurred just in the last month. All these papers have histories that date back to the mid-19th century. No one knows exactly what will happen to the 1,400 daily newspapers that are still operating. Some will almost certainly go out of business; Others will become Web-only publications. Even though there are some papers with the resources to carry on, it seems hard...

So Long, Alex P. Keaton

The millennial generation could pull American politics even further to the left, and for a longer time, than the Reagan generation pulled our politics to the right.

A quarter-century ago, political observers marveled at a new phenomenon: an enormous wave of conservative young people. Instead of tuning in, turning on, and dropping out, they were donning polo shirts, keeping their hair cut short, and waxing eloquent on the wonders of the free market. Their exemplar was Alex P. Keaton, the hero of the television show Family Ties , whose ex-hippie parents shook their heads at their son's affection for Ronald Reagan. The series ran from 1982 to 1989; in its finale, Alex leaves home to take a job on Wall Street. In 1984, 59 percent of the nation's Alex P. Keatons voted for Reagan, an extraordinary percentage for a Republican (and just over his proportion of the popular vote as a whole). What was going on? As E.J. Dionne, then a reporter for The New York Times , wrote near the end of Reagan's tenure in the fall of 1988, "Academics and political consultants who have studied the youth vote have many explanations for their movement toward the Republicans,...

The Tiny Battles of a Has-Been Candidate

Back in November, John McCain lost the presidential election by a significant margin. So why are we still paying attention to him?

Even though his mishandling of the economic crisis in September may have cost him the election, Sen. John McCain has been one of the most vocal critics of the stimulus package. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Imagine that you pick up your copy of The New York Times and see a front-page article proclaiming that John Kerry is now such the linchpin of debate in Washington that he has taken "center stage." Then you surf over to one of the Sunday morning talk shows to find George Stephanopoulos or Bob Schieffer interviewing Michael Dukakis. Then you turn your radio and hear a story on NPR about Bob Dole's objections to the president's latest legislative initiative. You'd probably ask yourself, What is going on here? Why am I being forced to listen to these people? Such a thing would never happen, of course. Once somebody loses a presidential campaign, he may continue in elected office and may even have some interesting things to say about policy. But unless he drops hints about running for president again, the media will ignore him. Unless, that is, he's John McCain. For some reason, as we are now learning, "John McCain objected to the president's plan" is supposed to be news. That front-page...

Believe It or Not, He's Walking on Air

Obama is looking more and more like a progressive Reagan. What does that say about the progressives who rallied to elect him?

If you go into a chain bookstore these days, you're likely to see an entire wall devoted to books about Barack Obama. Some are collections of photographs from the campaign, some are aimed at kids ( Meet President Obama! ), some are meant to be a little more thoughtful (answering the question, "What does Obama mean ?"), and a few are warnings about the road to disaster he's leading us down. You can see it online as well; search Amazon.com for "Obama" in the books section, and you receive 4,388 results. Among the seven books in the "Cooking, Food and Wine" section are The Obama Menu , and books like The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese , which apparently mentions him somewhere in its pages. Even excluding the cheese references, that's an impressive output, particularly considering that the man has been president for all of six weeks. Let me make a prediction: Before this presidency is over, there will be more tomes written about it than any in decades. Obama hasn't yet inspired the kind...

Pages