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

How Deep Is Your Love?

Republicans are up to their usual tricks -- questioning the patriotism of their opponents. The media, as usual, is playing along because it lauds political success, not virtue.

In September of 1988, the presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush decided to demonstrate that their Connecticut Brahmin candidate was positively turgid with patriotism, particularly in comparison to his opponent (a guy with a name that was just too ethnic). So they sent Bush to a flag factory in Verona, New Jersey, where he lovingly fondled Old Glory for the cameras. To any reasonable observer, it was just too much. But Roger Ailes, Lee Atwater, and the rest of the Bush brain trust didn't mind a bit of criticism. They made their point. It was not the first time a Republican campaign made the argument that their candidate loved America like all good Americans do, while their opponent might not. And more and more, the current campaign, at least from the Republican side, is shaping up like pretty much like every other presidential campaign of the last forty years. You've got your lack of patriotism charges, your elitism charges, your race-baiting, your fear-mongering – all the...

How Democrats Can Beat McCain

Democrats need not panic about running against John McCain. The war, the economy, and the Bush Legacy are aligned against him, and he's never had his centrist credentials attacked from the left.

Ladies and gentlemen, your intrepid press corps has circled back around to its favorite narrative: Democrats divided! The party of the people in peril! The circular firing squad locked and loaded! And what of John McCain, the Maverick (TM), the Straight Talker (TM), the One Politician Who Never Does Anything For Political Reasons, So Full Of Integrity Is He (TM)? He's just trudging along, winning over voters left and right. Based on the possibly unrepresentative sample of my friends, relatives, and acquaintances, Democrats have become extremely nervous in recent weeks. McCain, many think, has such appeal to independent voters (and lots of Democrats) that the Democratic candidate, whoever he or she may be, could be facing a uniquely tough Republican opponent. It is true that in recent decades there has not been a presidential candidate (other than vice-presidents like Bush I and Gore) who is as familiar to the public as John McCain. Since his last presidential run in 2000, he has been...

Pay No Attention to the Media Behind the Curtain

The press is convinced that badgering candidates about faux scandals is necessary because the issues, "will be raised" in the general election, but it ignores its own crucial roll in shaping the terms of debate.

"We may not like it," wrote The New York Times ' David Brooks, rising to the defense of Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos after last Wednesday's Democratic debate, "but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall." Brooks' fellow members of the media elite's innermost circle could not be blamed, he wanted you to know, for they were merely doing their jobs, forcing the candidates to answer the questions they'll have no choice but to confront in the general election. But don't let him fool you -- Brooks likes it just fine. He and his compatriots would find nothing more boring than a campaign consumed by discussions of individual mandates and redeployment plans, some kind of dreadfully tedious policy wonk-fest where issues of "culture" take only a supporting role. How then would he mine the red state-blue state pop sociology that took him from a mildly interesting writer for a conservative magazine to a prince of "serious" mass...

I GOT YOUR ELITISM RIGHT HERE.

As Dana mentioned earlier, in a bold move to aggressively combat high gas prices, John McCain today proposed a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax, which is currently 18.4 cents per gallon. So if your car has a 15-gallon tank, that means when you fill up, you'll save a whopping $2.76. Thanks, President McCain! I'm not worried about losing my job or paying for health insurance anymore! Who says Republicans don't have solutions to our economic problems? -- Paul Waldman

How Blue Is Your Collar?

The bloviating white men of political television are obsessed with maintaining their blue-collar cred. But their obsession with keeping it real blinds them to their own wealth and leads them to mindlessly victimize Democrats.

The cover story of last Sunday's New York Times Magazine profiled Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and leading light of the political-media universe. The article portrays Matthews as a pathetically insecure man, searching for his face on barroom television screens -- desperate for everyone to acknowledge his importance. In a different time, someone like Matthews would be eagerly casting off his modest Philadelphia upbringing and embracing the accoutrements of the upper crust, assuring all who cared to look that he indeed belonged among the country's elite. But not today. With Matthews, as with so many of our media and political figures, the premium now is on those with collars dyed the deepest blue, claiming to speak for the man and woman in the street. "I don't think people look at me as the establishment, do you?" Matthews plaintively asks the profile's author, Mark Leibovich. "Am I part of the winner's circle in American life? I don't think so." Please,...

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