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

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...

The Invisible Hand, Dipping Into Your Wallet

The social theorist Eric Hoffer once wrote, in a quote that seems to have been punched up in the repeating, something to the effect that every political movement starts out as a cause, turns into a business, and eventually devolves into a racket. It seems that the tea party movement is headed that way with remarkable alacrity. David Weigel of the Washington Independent tells us : This morning, I asked whether Sarah Palin 's decision to speak at the Tea Party National Convention -- while eschewing the much higher-profile Conservative Political Action Conference -- had anything to with money. Conservative blogger Dan Riehl is reporting , based on "forwarded communications," that Palin is making at least $75,000 and at most $100,000 for her speech. Tickets for the speech alone are going for $349 -- tickets for the whole convention are $549. I can't say I'm particularly surprised. There are plainly a lot of people, Palin among them, who see the tea baggers not just as a political movement...

We Need to Talk About Your TPS Reports.

(Flickr/ Tim Patterson ) It seems like every time I've turned on my radio in the last week, I've heard Daniel Pink , author of the new book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us , explaining how we can all be happy and fulfilled at work. Turns out you need three things: autonomy (making your own decisions about what to do), mastery (having challenging tasks), and purpose (feeling like your work accomplishes something meaningful). Since I haven't actually read Pink's book, I don't know if he tries to determine how many people actually have these things in their work. If I had to guess, I'd say it's around 5 percent. Which is why it reminded me of this fascinating 2008 piece in The New Atlantis titled "The Moral Life of Cubicles," wherein author David Franz explains the countercultural roots of that emblem of corporate soullessness. It turns out that when it was introduced, the cubicle was designed to enable us to work in our new collaborative, open offices, fostering...

The Powerpoint Is the Message.

Back in the 1960s, Canadian media scholar Marshall McLuhan told the world that “the medium is the message,” by which he meant that content was far less meaningful than the form in which that content was delivered. If you’re reading, McLuhan felt, your brain is operating in a specific way, regardless of whether you’re reading Ulysses or the latest Penthouse Forum. If you're watching moving images on your television, your brain is operating in a fundamentally different way. There are profound implications for what you’ll retain and how your mind will work in the future. Lots of McLuhan's claims were speculative, and the joke about him goes like this: He argued that print was a dying medium. And if you have to suffer through reading his awful prose, you begin to believe it. But I couldn't help but think of McLuhan when I saw Matt Yglesias note that according to a new report from the Center for New American Security, at least part of the intelligence community’s difficulties in...

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