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

Stuff Some White People Don't Like

The right's animosity toward Obama isn't about fascism or socialism -- it's about racism.

Citizens protest against taxation and government spending at a "Tea Party" rally. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Back when Barack Obama began his extraordinary quest for the presidency, lots of conservatives -- particularly those prone to wake screaming in the night from visions of Madam President Hillary Clinton -- just couldn't say enough nice things about him. What attracted them most was not his intellect or political skill: It was the way he handled race. Right-wing stalwart William Bennett may have best summed up the feeling when he gushed that Obama "never brings race into it. He never plays the race card. Talk about the black community -- he has taught the black community you don't have to act like Jesse Jackson; you don't have to act like Al Sharpton." The post-racial honeymoon couldn't last, of course. During the campaign, conservative forces worked overtime to define Obama by his race, from the attacks on his wife as an "angry black woman" (Fox News once referred to her as Barack's "baby mama") to the way they gleefully seized on Jeremiah Wright in an attempt to turn Obama into Black...

The Three Audiences Obama Has to Please

Wednesday's speech is the president's chance to talk three key congressional constituencies into passing health-care reform.

Barack Obama with Nancy Pelosi. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Not long after the general presidential election began last year, some momentary fluctuation in the polls led to a fevered round of hand-wringing on the left. Our nominee is letting it slip away! people cried. He ought to shift his strategy, change this, alter that! Then a photo of Barack Obama at his convention speech began to circulate through e-mails and blogs, showing the candidate looking strong and resolute. "Everyone chill the f*** out," the caption read in bold letters. "I GOT THIS." And he did. For all the marveling at Obama's rhetorical skill, it was his political skill that got him to the White House, most important, his ability to see the whole field of the campaign and keep focused on the long-term goal without getting bogged down in the day-to-day ups and downs of polls and the news media's obsession with distractions and minutiae. Today, with the health-care debate coming toward its end, progressives once again are nervous and agitated, wondering if the victory for...

The Atlantic's McArdle Problem.

A colleague points me to this , from a WaPo chat with The Atlantic ’s Megan McArdle: Anonymous : You said that medical innovation will be wiped out if we have a type of national health care, because European drug companies get 80% of their revenue from Americans. Where did you get this statistic? Megan McArdle : It wasn't a statistic--it was a hypothetical. However, whenever I have been able to find pharma financial statements that break down their profits by region, the lion's share always comes from the US. Before we get to why this is worth taking note of, let’s be clear that on the factual question, she’s simply wrong. As my colleague noted: As a statement about geographical breakdowns of revenues, and assuming "the lion's share" means "at least half", this is not true about Pfizer, GlaxoSmithkline (pharmaceuticals sales), Sanofi-Aventis, Bayer (healthcare division) or Hoffman-LaRoche. It is true about the "Pharmaceuticals" division of Johnson & Johnson, but not about the "...

Health Care's Lowest Foes

The most reprehensible critics of reform are not the ignorant or deluded, but the conspirators who lie knowingly about what's at stake.

H.L. Mencken famously observed that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. Were he alive today and watching our debate over health-care reform, he would nod his head knowingly and say, "See? I told you so." And he would no doubt have more than a few things to say about those whose seeds of deception have found such fruitful soil in the fears and prejudices of so many of our fellow citizens. Reform's fate will be uncertain until the last possible moment, and if the legislation does succeed, it will be by the skin of its teeth. Perhaps the success of reform will be enough to wipe away the bitter taste the last few months have left in the mouth of anyone who cares about American democracy. But ask yourself this: In your lifetime, can you recall a debate in which lie was piled so high upon lie, in which one side operated so cynically, in which fear was so gleefully wielded, in which ignorance and misconception and plain old stupidity so thoroughly...

Last Chance for the Public Option?

Reports of its demise could be premature.

If it could turn back the clock, the Obama administration would probably go back to late November and undertake an elaborate war game on health-care reform. It would lock its smartest people away in a secure location for a week or so and have them play out every conceivable scenario and subplot, detailing plans for all eventualities. Then, when the time came, it would be prepared for anything. Administration officials don't appear to have done that. But if nothing else, they should have been able to predict that the public option -- a Medicare-like program from which Americans could chose to get their health insurance -- would eventually become the ideological flashpoint of the entire debate. You didn't have to be a genius to see that coming. Though it took a while, the public option is now at the center of the discussion. Among other things, this means that progressives are finally getting to participate, beyond defending the administration against the ridiculous claims of critics...