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

I'm Sigmund Freud, and I Approve This Message

By the time it's over, this presidential campaign may set some kind of record for the sheer quantity of silliness, trivia, and stupidity. Sometimes, a tire gauge is just a tire gauge. But not this time.

By the time it's over, this presidential campaign may set some kind of record for the sheer quantity of silliness, trivia, and stupidity with which the news media becomes temporarily consumed. From flag pins to Britney and Paris to the latest round of feigned outrage at a campaign surrogate's statement, it's enough to make you pine for the days when candidates argued fervently about the fate of Quemoy and Matsu . But before we throw up our hands in despair, we should note that even the dumbest of campaign controversies can be quite revealing of the symbolic undercurrents that flow beneath our politics. So it was with the latest round of back-and-forth about gas prices, in which Barack Obama made the eminently reasonable suggestion that among the things we could all do to improve our gas mileage is keep our tires properly inflated. The McCain campaign swung into action, quickly distributing to reporters tire gauges with the words "Obama's Energy Plan" printed on them. Har har! They...

Why Obama Should Name His Cabinet Now

Whoever he picks as his running mate, Barack Obama will end up disappointing someone. But if he announced a cabinet at the same time he could reassure all factions of his party.

When Barack Obama announces his pick for vice president, one set of questions will be asked, in various forms, over and over: Does this candidate adequately address Obama's weaknesses? Does he or she compensate for the nominee's relatively brief time on the national scene? Does the VP pick make some potential attacks on Obama harder? It's a lot to ask of some senator or governor -- maybe too much. But the day of the running-mate announcement could be truly revolutionary, if Obama has the courage to offer to the public more than just a running mate. Given the possible vice-presidential candidates who have been floated in the press (and there's always the possibility of a choice from left field), there may be no perfect choice. There are some candidates who bring gravitas and Washington experience (Joe Biden or Chris Dodd), some who reinforce Obama's message of change (Kathleen Sebelius or Tim Kaine), and others who offer a comforting blandness (Evan Bayh). But no single candidate has...

Playing His Own Game

For years, Republicans have out-played Democrats, particularly on media strategy. This year, with Barack Obama, Democrats have the upper hand.

For years, Democrats have marveled at Republicans' ability to create compelling visuals. When Ronald Reagan's advisers began treating his every appearance as a tableau that required careful attention to lighting, perspective, and composition, it was revolutionary. The series of attack ads George H.W. Bush used to eviscerate Michael Dukakis were so intricately structured and layered with symbolism that entire dissertations have been written about them. George W. Bush's team continued the visual artistry with a careful eye toward placing its lead actor in manly costumes and heroic poses (take this remarkable bit of framing). Democrats, it seemed, could never keep up. But look at what we saw this week. While Barack Obama was photographed standing on mountaintops and being mobbed by adoring troops, John McCain was filmed tooling around in a golf cart with George H. W. Bush, a figure from the political past. Then, while Obama spoke in front of a crowd of 200,000 Germans waving American...

THE DIVERSITY OF THE CONSERVATIVE MONEY CLASS

I simply must comment on this bit of hilarity from Ross Douthat : But the idea that every move the GOP makes is choreographed by a bunch of moneymen who are only interested in keeping their own taxes low by whatever means necessary doesn't square with reality. For one thing, the GOP's big-money donors don't all want the same thing: Some of them want low income taxes, some of them want low corporate taxes, some of them (though not all that many, I suspect) want government programs slashed, some of them want deregulation, some of them want regulation, some of them want pro-business judges appointed, some of them want subsidies for their industries, etc. etc. What a diverse group it is! Some want to slash taxes on the wealthy, while others want to slash taxes on corporations, and some want to slash regulations on business, while some want to see pro-business judges appointed. It's a regular political Tower of Babel over there - how on earth do they all get along? I sympathize with Ross,...

It's the Economists, Stupid

Phil Gramm's tone-deaf remark about a "mental recession" shows that in picking advisers, on the economy or otherwise, John McCain doesn't have a clue.

In eulogizing the recently departed Jesse Helms, many praised the former senator from North Carolina for always standing up for what he believed in. He certainly did -- Helms never apologized for his racist beliefs, and there is little evidence he ever renounced them. Just why anyone should be admired for advocating despicable ideas unapologetically is less than clear, but, if nothing else, no one could mistake Helms for anything but what he was. I was reminded of that supposedly admirable quality this week when John McCain found himself on the defensive because of something said by his friend, principal economic adviser, and potential Treasury secretary, former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas. Speaking to the editorial board of The Washington Times , Gramm expressed his frustration with a public that doesn't seem to grasp how well the economy is really doing. In what will no doubt become one of the most memorable lines of the campaign, Gramm said, "We've sort of become a nation of whiners...

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