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

A Eulogy for the Public Option?

If health-care reform is to be a true progressive victory, there has to be room for future improvement.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., talks to reporters after leaving a Democratic caucus outside of the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009.(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
The debate over health-care reform has been many things. It has been an education in both the intricacies of public policy and the ease with which fears can be activated and deception accomplished. It has been a dispiriting exercise in the limits and pathologies of American politics. And it has been a clash of values. Because progressives think government can actually solve problems, they tend to have at least a partially technocratic view of policy. At least in theory, it should be possible to analyze a problem, assess various solutions to it, select the one most likely to solve it, and then implement that solution. Yet so often in our country, this self-evidently sensible approach ends up feeling like an unattainable ideal. In the course of this process, we've discovered -- if there was any doubt before -- just how deep conservatives' hatred of government runs, from the grass roots all the way to members of Congress. It's not just that right-wingers are suspicious of government or...

The Spending Wars

Wars cost money. They shouldn't be fought like they're free.

Rep. David Obey, D-Wisc. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
When Rep. David Obey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, recently proposed a surtax that would pay for the Afghanistan War, the collective response from most of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle was, "Are you nuts?" Nancy Pelosi quickly put the kibosh on Obey's "Share the Sacrifice Act," and all talk of funding the war has been banished. Meanwhile, Democrats have spent untold hours debating how to finance health-care reform, all while Republicans carp about how doing so is just too darn expensive, what with our ever-climbing deficit. We've become used to this contradiction in Washington. Wars just need to be fought; the defense budget just needs to keep growing; and we don't really care what it costs. The idea that we might ask each other to pay for war through our taxes is so ridiculous as to barely merit discussion. Domestic initiatives meant to improve Americans' lives, on the other hand, are deeply offensive to any notion of responsibility unless every penny is...

Ink-Stained Wretches Still Rule.

In last month’s print issue, I wrote about the status of the newspaper syndicated columnist. Although it’s something of a complex picture, one of the conclusions you come to after examining the issue is that words on a page still have a power to bestow prestige that pixels on a screen lack. And in this age of ever-multiplying sources of news, information, and especially commentary, there are certain sinecures that bring unmatched influence. A number of people, including TAP alums Ezra and Matt , have commented on the fact that when he was asked in an interview with Foreign Policy , “Who do you think is the smartest, most penetrating thinker you know?”, Bill Clinton mentioned Tom Friedman . Matt reposts Friedman’s infamous “Suck on this” interview, while Ezra notes that when it comes to absurdly oversimplified and sometimes simply wrong, yet undeniably sticky metaphors, Friedman has no equal. But here’s something else to take note of: When Bill Clinton, a pretty important and...

The Persecution Complex of Sarah Palin

We all define ourselves by our enemies -- but it can be taken too far.

We all define ourselves by our enemies -- but it can be taken too far.
While most politicians portray themselves as actors on a grand stage, others try harder to convince us that they are no better than we are, of middling station and modest self-regard. Republicans, always conscious of their party's white-shoe past and continued advocacy for the most fortunate, work particularly hard to communicate their folksy ordinariness. Some do it more convincingly than others, but all know it's a key ingredient of political success. Like anything, though, the act can be taken too far. Which brings us to the brightest star in the GOP firmament, former Alaska governor and current public relations colossus Sarah Palin. More than anyone else in politics, Palin is tethered firmly to the ground by her constant accumulation of petty grievances. In this habit, you can see the quality her fans love most about her -- she's just like them! Ask her who she is, and she'll tell you whom she's mad at. As Rolling Stone 's Matt Taibbi recently noted , "Complaining about the...

Which Party Is Best Prepared to Save Us From the Robot Apocalypse?

Arthur C. Clarke famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” But if science fiction has taught us anything, it’s that any sufficiently advanced technology will inevitably rise up to enslave us. So if you want to get ready for the day when your Roomba declares that maybe it’s time for you to start crawling around on the floor sucking up dust, it might be a good idea to evaluate the Republican and Democratic approaches to this problem. Republicans might argue that with their ample stockpiles of weaponry and shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude, they’re the folks you want to have around during the robot apocalypse. I can think of one politician who might take particular pleasure in popping off her titanium pursuers (though she won’t be able to do it from a helicopter, since those computer-filled machines will be taking orders from their electronic brethren). Democrats, however, have a trump card in this debate. Unlike their opponents, they’...

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