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

Ink-Stained Wretches Still Rule.

In last month’s print issue, I wrote about the status of the newspaper syndicated columnist. Although it’s something of a complex picture, one of the conclusions you come to after examining the issue is that words on a page still have a power to bestow prestige that pixels on a screen lack. And in this age of ever-multiplying sources of news, information, and especially commentary, there are certain sinecures that bring unmatched influence. A number of people, including TAP alums Ezra and Matt , have commented on the fact that when he was asked in an interview with Foreign Policy , “Who do you think is the smartest, most penetrating thinker you know?”, Bill Clinton mentioned Tom Friedman . Matt reposts Friedman’s infamous “Suck on this” interview, while Ezra notes that when it comes to absurdly oversimplified and sometimes simply wrong, yet undeniably sticky metaphors, Friedman has no equal. But here’s something else to take note of: When Bill Clinton, a pretty important and...

The Persecution Complex of Sarah Palin

We all define ourselves by our enemies -- but it can be taken too far.

We all define ourselves by our enemies -- but it can be taken too far.
While most politicians portray themselves as actors on a grand stage, others try harder to convince us that they are no better than we are, of middling station and modest self-regard. Republicans, always conscious of their party's white-shoe past and continued advocacy for the most fortunate, work particularly hard to communicate their folksy ordinariness. Some do it more convincingly than others, but all know it's a key ingredient of political success. Like anything, though, the act can be taken too far. Which brings us to the brightest star in the GOP firmament, former Alaska governor and current public relations colossus Sarah Palin. More than anyone else in politics, Palin is tethered firmly to the ground by her constant accumulation of petty grievances. In this habit, you can see the quality her fans love most about her -- she's just like them! Ask her who she is, and she'll tell you whom she's mad at. As Rolling Stone 's Matt Taibbi recently noted , "Complaining about the...

Which Party Is Best Prepared to Save Us From the Robot Apocalypse?

Arthur C. Clarke famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” But if science fiction has taught us anything, it’s that any sufficiently advanced technology will inevitably rise up to enslave us. So if you want to get ready for the day when your Roomba declares that maybe it’s time for you to start crawling around on the floor sucking up dust, it might be a good idea to evaluate the Republican and Democratic approaches to this problem. Republicans might argue that with their ample stockpiles of weaponry and shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude, they’re the folks you want to have around during the robot apocalypse. I can think of one politician who might take particular pleasure in popping off her titanium pursuers (though she won’t be able to do it from a helicopter, since those computer-filled machines will be taking orders from their electronic brethren). Democrats, however, have a trump card in this debate. Unlike their opponents, they’...

The Mammogram Mess

Last week, new guidelines for breast cancer screening inspired a panic. Will we ever be able to discuss effective health care reasonably?

(iStockphoto)
The last thing Democrats needed, with reform still not passed, was any kind of health-care controversy. Yet that's just what they got when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force came out with a new set of guidelines on breast cancer screening, pushing back the suggested age for regular mammograms from 40 to 50. The uproar over the recommendation demonstrates a lot of the problems with how we deal with health care. It shows how opportunistic politicians can be -- the GOP, champions of women's health! -- and how as a country we have an inherent bias toward more health care, whether or not it's better health care. But the controversy also demonstrates how difficult it is to have a reasoned discussion and make good policy when scientific claims based on aggregates of cases are put up against vivid anecdotes from individual people. Unsurprisingly, news reports about this issue have been filled with women testifying about the success of their own pre-50 mammograms. Since reporters always...

Please, Enough With the Length of Bill.

A few months back, I wrote a column titled "The Ten Dumbest Arguments Against Health Care Reform." But now I feel bad, because I missed the single dumbest argument, which those opposed to reform seem to have put at the center of their case against it. And here it is: The bill is really long! We’ve had to endure one Republican after another decrying the length of the bill, holding up big printed copies of the bill, demanding that people read the whole bill out loud … enough already. You made your point. It’s really long. What none of them has explained is why this is, irrespective of what is actually in the bill , a bad thing. When they were running Congress, Republicans wrote long bills too (the White House pointed out that the Medicare prescription drug plan passed by Republicans and signed by George W. Bush was a none-too-svelte 1,044 pages). Those bills weren’t bad because they were long, they were bad because of what they did. Whether a bill is good or bad depends on what it...

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