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

What Is the Sound of One Senator Tweeting?

Gawker tells us that in addition to being far ahead of their Democratic counterparts in the donning of tri-corner hats, GOP members of Congress are leading the way on Twitter: According to a newly released survey, Republican politicians dominate the congressional Twitter-verse. Meanwhile, Barack Obama just sent his first "Tweet" last month. Twitter Gap! A Congressional Research Service report released last week (and published by Secrecy News ) found that 60% of the members of Congress with Twitter accounts are Republicans, and that fully half of all congressional Twitterers are House GOP members. The study, which was conducted in August of last year is limited to U.S. senators and House members, shows GOP pols out-Twittering Democrats in virtually every category: A whopping 67% of all congressional "Tweets" are written by Republicans. To this, I offer a resounding, "Meh." Is there anything less valuable than the tweets of a member of Congress? Just how meaningless is your time if you...

The Holy War Pitch

We're only doing al-Qaeda recruiters a favor by casting its young men as invincible warriors.

This frame grab taken Aug. 5, 2007, from a video message carrying the logo of al-Qaeda's production house as-Sahab purports to show Adam Gadahn, a Californian also known as Azzan al-Amriki. (AP Photo/IntelCenter)
When you notice that the typical terrorist is a man in his 20s, it's tempting to put it down to the fact that young men are the source of much of the world's problems, responsible for most of society's crime and mayhem wherever you go. But there's something else at work there, a force we would do well to recognize. But the age of new adulthood is also when you begin to understand that the dreams and expectations of your youth existed in a different reality. Nobody says to a kid, "Someday, if you play your cards right, you can have a reasonably remunerative job and a mortgage with a good interest rate, then steadily build your 401(k) until you settle into a not-unpleasant retirement." Kids watch sports stars and musicians, read about presidents and kings, and hope that one day their lives will be world-changing. But then they grow up, and the future doesn't seem so grand for most. The week before last, The New York Times Magazine ran a story about a young man named Omar Hammami, the...

The Health-Care Smackdown.

Contrary to Tim , I'm not totally skeptical of the news that Obama has invited Republicans to have a half-day conference -- at which they'd tell him why his health-care bill is awful, and he'd tell them why they're wrong. This is, of course, a media event in the strictest sense -- it has no legislative purpose but is something created so that it can be viewed. It's something to get us from the limbo we're in now to some actual voting. Here, Obama has put Republicans in a bit of a bind: If they refuse his invitation, they confirm that they're just "the party of no." If they accept, on the other hand, they'll probably end up being taken to school by the president the way they were when he came to the House Republicans' meeting a couple of weeks ago. As many of us have been explaining at absurd lengths over the past year, nearly all of their objections to health-care reform are bogus. And this meeting promises a kind of exchange we don't actually get that often at a high level: one in...

Barack Obama, the President of Ordinary Joes.

Greg Sargent already pointed out the absurdity of this Washington Post article , but there's something else of which we should take note. The article asserts that Obama is "a rare president who comes from the middle class, yet people still perceive him as disconnected from it. As he arrived in Nashua, nearly two-thirds of Americans believed that his economic policies had hurt the country or made no difference at all; almost half thought he did not understand their problems." As Sargent notes, according to the Post 's own polling , 57 percent of Americans say Obama "understands the problems of people like you," while 42 percent -- that's the "almost half" -- say he doesn't. Seems pretty good, right? And in fact, if you look back at their polls on George W. Bush -- remember him, the reg'lar fella who liked nothing more than chewing on some pretzels while watching football after a vigorous session of brush-clearing? -- Obama looks even better. Turns out that the high Bush achieved on...

America, In Present and Future Tense.

E. J. Dionne had a talk with Joe Biden on the subject of American superiority (Biden is strongly in favor), which brings up yet another way in which the right and the left are often talking past each other when they appear to be talking about the same thing. Progressives tend to find conservative jingoism distasteful, which conservatives sometimes interpret to mean that progressives hate America and want it to fail (indeed, one out of four Republicans believes " Barack Obama wants the terrorists to win"). The problem is that the two groups think about the subject of America and its awesomeness in different ways. Conservatives are far more likely to think that loving your country means you should, as often as possible, proclaim how awesome it is. These proclamations can be general ("U.S.A.! U.S.A.!") or specific ("We have the best health-care system in the world!"). The latter can get you into trouble if it's factually wrong, not just because you look foolish but because it actively...

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