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

Playing His Own Game

For years, Republicans have out-played Democrats, particularly on media strategy. This year, with Barack Obama, Democrats have the upper hand.

For years, Democrats have marveled at Republicans' ability to create compelling visuals. When Ronald Reagan's advisers began treating his every appearance as a tableau that required careful attention to lighting, perspective, and composition, it was revolutionary. The series of attack ads George H.W. Bush used to eviscerate Michael Dukakis were so intricately structured and layered with symbolism that entire dissertations have been written about them. George W. Bush's team continued the visual artistry with a careful eye toward placing its lead actor in manly costumes and heroic poses (take this remarkable bit of framing). Democrats, it seemed, could never keep up. But look at what we saw this week. While Barack Obama was photographed standing on mountaintops and being mobbed by adoring troops, John McCain was filmed tooling around in a golf cart with George H. W. Bush, a figure from the political past. Then, while Obama spoke in front of a crowd of 200,000 Germans waving American...

THE DIVERSITY OF THE CONSERVATIVE MONEY CLASS

I simply must comment on this bit of hilarity from Ross Douthat : But the idea that every move the GOP makes is choreographed by a bunch of moneymen who are only interested in keeping their own taxes low by whatever means necessary doesn't square with reality. For one thing, the GOP's big-money donors don't all want the same thing: Some of them want low income taxes, some of them want low corporate taxes, some of them (though not all that many, I suspect) want government programs slashed, some of them want deregulation, some of them want regulation, some of them want pro-business judges appointed, some of them want subsidies for their industries, etc. etc. What a diverse group it is! Some want to slash taxes on the wealthy, while others want to slash taxes on corporations, and some want to slash regulations on business, while some want to see pro-business judges appointed. It's a regular political Tower of Babel over there - how on earth do they all get along? I sympathize with Ross,...

It's the Economists, Stupid

Phil Gramm's tone-deaf remark about a "mental recession" shows that in picking advisers, on the economy or otherwise, John McCain doesn't have a clue.

In eulogizing the recently departed Jesse Helms, many praised the former senator from North Carolina for always standing up for what he believed in. He certainly did -- Helms never apologized for his racist beliefs, and there is little evidence he ever renounced them. Just why anyone should be admired for advocating despicable ideas unapologetically is less than clear, but, if nothing else, no one could mistake Helms for anything but what he was. I was reminded of that supposedly admirable quality this week when John McCain found himself on the defensive because of something said by his friend, principal economic adviser, and potential Treasury secretary, former Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas. Speaking to the editorial board of The Washington Times , Gramm expressed his frustration with a public that doesn't seem to grasp how well the economy is really doing. In what will no doubt become one of the most memorable lines of the campaign, Gramm said, "We've sort of become a nation of whiners...

THAT THERE'S A REAL CHIN-SCRATCHER.

People are starting to point to this latest bit of policy wonkery from Senator McCain: This came up because McCain advisor and veep mentionee Carly Fiorina went off-message and talked about the unfairness of the fact that insurance companies cover Viagra but not contraception. But this isn't the first time McCain has been utterly stumped by a question about contraception. Check out this remarkably similar episode , from over a year ago: Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should it be Bush’s policy, which is just abstinence?” Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.” Q: “So no contraception, no counseling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?” Mr. McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.” Q: “I mean, I think you’d probably agree it probably does help stop it?” Mr. McCain: (Laughs) “Are we on the Straight Talk...

MCCAIN'S BAD AD ABOUT HIPPIES AND HOPE.

John McCain has a new ad out, and the guy who keeps saying how much he hates talking about Vietnam is, what do you know, talking about Vietnam again: And as a bonus, we get hippies! If the sight of them still makes your blood boil forty years later, then there's no doubt which candidate is for you. The opening line of the ad is, "It was a time of uncertainty, hope, and change: the Summer of Love." In other words, because he too talks about "hope" and "change," Ba rack Obama is a dirty hippie. In its effort to reframe Obama's rhetoric, this ad is strikingly bleak. How about the passage that closes the ad: "He believes our world is dangerous, our economy in shambles. John McCain doesn't always tell us what we hope to hear. Beautiful words cannot make our lives better. But a man who has always put his country and her people before self, before politics, can. Don't hope for a better life. Vote for one." There's an old adage that the more optimistic candidate is always the one who wins...

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