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

Scott Brown: I Hope to Be As Ineffectual As John McCain.

This is encouraging news from our newest senator: Sen.-elect Brown navigated the Russell Senate Office Building on Thursday for his first appointment with Sen. John McCain . A National Guardsman, Brown said in the interview that McCain was his senatorial model. "I have great respect for Senator McCain," Brown said of the Arizona Republican, who was one of his first establishment backers. "I've known him for a while, long before this, and you know he is a war hero and kind of a maverick independent thinker." He added, "I've told my leadership already that I'm not a rubber stamp for anybody." Wait a minute -- McCain is a war hero? And a maverick? You don't say. That kind of insight into people is what got Scott Brown where he is today. But is McCain the best model for a new senator? John McCain has served in Congress for 27 years now. In that time, he managed to produce one major piece of legislation -- the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, also known as McCain-Feingold -- which,...

Fear Will Keep the Local Systems In Line.

Mark Schmitt knows more about campaign finance than just about anyone, so when he says that the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United , though awful, may not cause the sky to fall right away, I want to believe him. But there's an angle on this story that makes me really concerned, and it's not the one most people think about when they think about campaign finance. When the Court ruled that corporations are now essentially free to engage in as much electioneering as they want, they didn’t just invalidate the federal laws prohibiting such activities. They also invalidated the state and local laws to that effect. What this ruling does, on all levels, is bring a new level of fear to a professional class – politicians – not known for their courage. Even more than before, they will now go about their work every day knowing that if they get on the wrong side of the wrong corporation, they could get stomped. As Michael Waldman (no relation) pointed out yesterday, the potential sums...

Crunch Time for Democrats

One of the great fears politicians have is that there will be some wave of strong feeling among the public that they will be oblivious to, until it rolls over them and it's too late to do anything about it. This happened to Democrats in 1994, and it happened to Republicans in 2006. Right now, a lot of Democrats are worried that there's another wave of strong feeling coming at them. Republicans have been working very hard to convince them that the teabaggers screaming about socialism represent more than a small minority of the country (they don't), and that the current voter discontentment doesn't really have much to do with the economy – which would mean that your average independent voter will still be determined to throw the bums out even after the economy recovers. But that's not the wave Democrats should be worried about right now. The most important political event of this week wasn't Scott Brown's victory in the special election, it was the reaction of Democrats. They were...

Can't Anybody Here Play This Game?

Progressives often observe that the news media let Republicans get away with things they never let Democrats get away with, and that's often true. But we also have to acknowledge that how controversial a particular action becomes has a lot do with the choices that political actors make. Republicans are very, very good at ginning up controversy over something a Democrat said or did. Democrats could do the same thing, if they put their hearts into it. But much of the time, they just don't. Which is why we get things like this : Erroll Southers , President Obama 's choice to head the Transportation Security Administration, withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday, dealing a setback to an agency still grappling with the security failures that led to an alleged attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day… Obama nominated Southers, a former FBI agent, in September to head the TSA. But Sen. Jim DeMint , a South Carolina Republican who complained that Southers hoped to make good on an...

What I'd Like to Hear a Congressional Democrat Say.

This is what I'd like to hear a congressional Democrat say: "We're obviously disappointed about the results of the special election in Massachusetts. But the fact that we have gone from a 20-seat advantage in the Senate to an 18-seat advantage in the Senate doesn't mean that Republicans are in charge. They had eight years under George W. Bush to push their agenda, and they pushed it good and hard. There's a reason that at the end of that eight years, the voters elected Democrats to the White House and large majorities in Congress. That hasn't changed. "So for the next nine and a half months, we’re going to do everything we can to improve our country's fortunes and set it on the right course. That includes health care reform – we promised it when we ran, and we're going to deliver it. In their role as the minority party, Republicans will try every parliamentary maneuver they can to stop us. That's no surprise – they've been fighting against reform all year, just as they've been...

Pages