Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. 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

The Fundamental Dynamic of the Health-Care Debate.

At today's Health Care Smackdown ("You'll pay for the whole seat -- but you'll only need the edge!") and in the postmortems, both sides will likely charge that the other side is being dishonest about their intentions. Democrats will say that Republicans are pretending that they are open to reform, but all they really want is to kill the bill, for reasons both substantive (they don't particularly think health care should be reformed) and political (they don't want Democrats to get a victory). For their part, Republicans will charge that Democrats pretend they are open to bipartisanship, but in truth they just want to pass their bill, and they don't care whether Republicans come along or not. And you know what? They're both right. And in this at least, they're both taking a legitimate position. It's perfectly fine for Republicans to oppose reform -- they're the opposition, after all. And they've opposed pretty much every attempt at health-care reform in the last seven decades. That's...

Reconciliation Context Alert!

NPR today, engaging in a shameless act of journalism, gives us some context on just how crazy and unprecedented it would be for Democrats to use the budget reconciliation process to enact changes to a piece of health-care legislation that has passed both houses of Congress (provided they can get the House to pass the Senate's version of health-care reform, this is the strategy Democrats will probably pursue to improve on the Senate's bill). Republicans are shocked, shocked that their opponents would contemplate such a thing -- after all, it's one thing to pass enormous tax cuts aimed at the wealthy through reconciliation, as they did when George W. Bush was president -- but it's something else to use the same majority-rule process for health care! But actually it isn't. As NPR's chart shows, health-care changes have been made through reconciliation plenty of times before, most notably with the creation of COBRA, the program that allows you to stay on your old employer's health plan...

On the American Takfiris.

If you haven't yet read Adam 's fantastic post over at the Atlantic , you should do so now. Here's an excerpt: The torture memos--indeed, all of the pro-torture arguments rest on a similar intellectual themes to the takfiris. Suspected terrorists are "illegal enemy combatants", outside the framework of laws that would otherwise guide us. Just as the takfiris justify the killing of even self-identified Muslims by excommunicating them as "infidels", torture apologists argue that even American citizens like Jose Padilla who are accused of being terrorists become legal "apostates" without any rights the president is bound to respect. No matter what your ideology, if you pay attention to politics you'll find a lot to be angry about. But I don't know that anything in my years of awareness has made me more disgusted than the way so many people, including so many influential people, became advocates of torture in the months and years following September 11. We were told so many times that "9/...

Olympic Cultural Sensitivity Watch.

If you've been paying attention to the Olympics, you've probably heard about Russian ice dancers Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin and their Australian Aboriginal routine. No? Here's the version that they debuted at the recent European championships -- you'll only have to watch the first few seconds to be sufficiently appalled: In response to the millions of jaws left gaping around the world, the couple toned down the costumes a bit for the Olympics: no more face paint, and Maxim's costume lost its skin darkening, thank goodness. It turns out the reason this all started is that in ice dancing, all the skaters (dancers?) have to follow a theme for one of their three routines, and the theme this year is folk dances. Which made this an excellent opportunity to ask just how offensive this kind of thing is, and why. While some of the Olympic teams rocked folk dances from their own cultures (the Israeli couple's "Straight Outta the Shtetl" routine, segueing inevitably into "Hava Nagila,"...

The Problem with a Plan.

At the upcoming health-care summit, and in the days following, Republicans will be talking a lot about how the American public has rejected the Democrats' health-reform plan, and therefore we ought to toss it out and "start with a blank piece of paper," which in practice means abandoning health reform altogether. But has the public actually rejected the Democrats' plan? The answer is, yes and no. A Newsweek poll contains some interesting data. When they asked people whether they favored or opposed the Obama plan, 40 percent said they favored it, and 48 percent said they opposed it -- not great, but not a disaster for the Democrats. Then they listed a bunch of the plan's provisions, and asked them whether they favored or opposed each. They got pretty much what you'd expect: Most of the provisions are extremely popular: The ones that aren't popular are the things you wish you didn't have to do, but you have to in order to make the system work: having an enforcement mechanism for the...

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