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

Can Obama Stop the War on Science?

For eight years, Republicans politicized science or ignored it. Now, Obama is trying to reverse the damage.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu looks at prototype magnets for the National Synchrotron Light Source II. (Flickr/Brookhaven National Laboratory)
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama warmed the hearts of progressives when he promised to change "the posture of our federal government from being one of the most anti-science administrations in American history to one that embraces science and technology." And when he got into office, he took a number of steps that demonstrated his sincerity. He abolished George W. Bush's restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research and announced that he was "directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision making." His Department of Energy -- run by Nobel-winning physicist Steven Chu -- is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on exploring innovative new energy sources under its Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy ( ARPA-E ), modeled on the Defense Department's DARPA. Obama also increased spending for the National Science Foundation. And he just announced a $250 million public-...

It's Her Story, and She's Sticking To It.

Is it too early to start speculating about the 2012 GOP presidential primaries? Of course not! The race promises to be a chaotic free-for-all of backbiting and recrimination, flip-flops and opportunistic conversions, feigned outrage and vicious attacks over meaningless non-issues. Throw in the fact that the force within the party with the most energy right now – the teabaggers – are not exactly known for their restraint, and it should be a hoot. I've long held that if Sarah Palin runs, her campaign will surely be the most entertaining train wreck to hit American politics in decades. But when I read Nate Silver ’s case that her chances of winning the nomination are actually pretty good, I was reminded of something fundamental that Palin has going for her. Way back in 2007, I wrote a two - part piece on the importance of narrative to a presidential candidacy. I argued that no one on the Republican side was really telling a story about why they were running, while on the Democratic side...

Jesus Fan Club, Alabama Chapter.

Back in early 2007, Mitt Romney faced questions about his religion, and he and his campaign did some pushback, asserting that he was facing a double-standard. He felt he was being asked to be a spokesperson for Mormonism, while other candidates with different religions weren't being asked to do the same. At the time, I wrote a column for the Boston Globe , arguing that if candidates were going to go around saying that nothing is more important to them than their faith (which so many of them do), then we have the right to start asking them specific questions about what they believe. You can't say, "This is the foundation of all that I am, but don't ask me about it." Yet any time those kinds of questions are asked, people find it an inappropriate intrusion into what ought to be a private matter. I was reminded of this when I heard about this amusing dust-up (via Andrew Sullivan ) in the Alabama GOP gubernatorial primary. You see, among Alabama Republicans, it seems the question isn't...

McCain and His Motives.

Remember when we all thought John McCain was a steadfastly principled man who didn't play that nasty political game? Yeah, I know – it seems like so long ago. But let's take a gander at what he's saying in a new radio ad. " President Obama is leading an extreme left-wing crusade to bankrupt America," McCain tells his constituents. "I stand in his way every day." This isn't just standard partisan boilerplate. McCain's argument here is not that Obama's misguided policies are bankrupting America, but that Obama is intentionally trying to bankrupt America . Apart from the obvious question – wouldn't bankrupting America be bad politics for him? – this kind of assertion is not just dangerous, it's positively infantile. When you say that your opponent is not just wrong, or operating from questionable motives, but is actively trying to destroy the country, you’ve announced that you have no interest in anything resembling a reasonable debate. As I've noted before, there were few people in...

Ben Nelson Has a Good Idea.

That's not a headline I ever thought I'd write. But political controversy, it seems, is the mother of invention. You'll recall that in exchange for his vote on health-care reform, Sen. Ben Nelson obtained from Harry Reid a provision under which the federal government would pick up the full cost of the bill's expansion of Medicaid – in Nebraska, but not in other states. Lots of people squawked: Why should Nebraska get special treatment, they asked. Of course, states and districts with powerful members (or those whose votes are particularly valuable at a given moment) get special treatment all the time. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a legitimate criticism. And it turns out that even the people of Nebraska (who, being overwhelmingly conservative, are not that hot on health-care reform to begin with) didn't think too highly of the deal benefiting their state. Now, Nelson is saying that the federal government ought to pick up the entire cost of the expansion for every state, not just...

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