Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger, and a contributing editor. 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

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Amid all the talk about John McCain's character, the press has missed the most important personal story in this election: Obama's steady, mature, and thoughtful approach to politics appeals to voters.

This year's presidential debates failed to produce that decisive moment, the "You're no Jack Kennedy" or "There you go again" that will be remembered for years. But they did highlight something that is all too often dismissed by the apostles of civics-textbook campaigns, where candidates carefully lay out their plans of action and policy proposals, and informed citizens evaluate carefully before making a voting choice: The stark contrast in the candidates' temperament and character. The Republican nominee could still win this election. But in McCain, voters are seeing a man being steadily consumed by anger, his campaign desperately trying one gimmick after another while it taps into the ugliest of voter impulses. His latest rhetorical move is to attack his opponent's tax plan for allegedly taking money from good Americans and giving it to people too poor to pay income taxes. McCain is now calling Obama's refundable tax credits "welfare," a term whose racial implications everyone...

The Permanent (Smear) Campaign

Conservatives realize that a successful Obama presidency could remake American politics. If Obama wins the election, they will try to destroy his presidency with lies, just as they sought to do to Bill Clinton.

Throughout his nearly two-year-long campaign for the White House, Barack Obama has talked about Americans' hunger for unity -- their ache for a government that will get past the petty divisions of recent decades, put aside partisanship, and come together to solve problems. From what we can tell, Obama's desire to provide that kind of presidency is sincere and stems from his own personality and history. Throughout his life, people have remarked on his ability to make those who disagree with him feel as though he has listened to their perspective and approached them with an open mind, even if he hasn't brought them around to agreeing with him. But as we finally approach the end of this campaign, one has to wonder whether Obama knows quite what he's in for. Not what will happen over the next three weeks but what he'll face if he actually wins. Because for all his talk of bringing Americans together, a President Obama could face an opposition so consumed with disgust and anger and...

Will the November Surprise Be Disenfranchised Voters?

Don't expect everything to go smoothly on Election Day. Make no mistake: The problems that existed in 2000 and 2004 haven't gone away. There could be millions of Americans who will be prevented from exercising their franchise on Nov. 4.

Just a couple of weeks ago, a lot of Democrats were mad at Barack Obama. John McCain had crept ahead in some tracking polls, and Obama's supporters were pleading with him to get tough and hit McCain where it hurts. Then the country's economic difficulties turned into an outright meltdown, McCain's running mate was revealed to be something of a nincompoop, and the Republican's campaign looked more and more like it was flailing about without any rationale for why its increasingly grumpy candidate ought to be elected president. Now that Obama has moved into a lead of about six to eight points, Democrats have stopped getting mad and started getting anxious. Surely, the GOP has an October surprise up its sleeve. Or despite what they're saying to pollsters, Americans just won't elect a black man to the White House. Or Democrats will find a way, just as they have so often before, to screw things up. I hate to contribute to this anxiety, but there is one thing people haven't been worried...

The Coming Conservative Crack-up

The Republicans' split over the bailout bill is the latest example of the party's internal divisions. Unless the GOP figures out what it stands for, it's headed for civil war and electoral disaster.

In Washington over the last week, there were lots of ideas about what a bailout of Wall Street ought to look like. But none had less chance of becoming law than the plan put out by the core of the House GOP caucus, the conservatives known as the Republican Study Committee . The members of this group (which has more than its share of extremists and buffoons) offered as the cure to our current woes the removal of regulations on businesses and a suspension of the capital-gains tax, as though they were the congressional equivalent of those Japanese soldiers hunkered down on remote islands, unaware that the war had ended years before and that their side lost. Not that anyone much cares what the Republican Study Committee thinks. But its desperate attempt to head off government intervention into the smoothly humming operation of the free market, comical though it might be, tells us something about what our politics will look like after this election. The conservative movement that has...

The Ideology Gap

The current financial crisis reveals how inadequate McCain's conservative ideology is and gives Barack Obama a chance to build a progressive consensus not seen since FDR.

As the economic meltdown of 2008 continues, some are hearing echoes of the Great Depression. And if this is another 1929, the next president could well be another Franklin Roosevelt. That's what Barack Obama seemed to be aiming for when he said last Friday, "This is not a time for fear. It's not a time for panic. It's a time for resolve and a time for leadership. I know we can steer ourselves out of this crisis, because we have done it before. That's what we do as Americans." The financial crisis is affording Obama the opportunity to emulate that greatest of Democratic presidents in an important way: It has led him to put ideology at the heart of his argument to the public. Obama seems to have realized that the crisis has created a unique ideological moment, one in which the differences between progressivism and conservatism can be made clear even to those who ordinarily have only the fuzziest notion of what those differences are. Until now, most Democrats haven't exactly been eager...

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