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

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...


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...


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...

The McCain Rules

The press has been reasonably kind to Barack Obama. But this is nothing compared with its eagerness to adopt any argument even mentioned by the McCain campaign.

"Sure, reporters have a soft spot for John McCain. But they've been pretty kind to Barack Obama, too. So what's going to happen now that two politicians they like are running against each other?" As I've been out promoting the book I co-wrote about McCain and the media, I've been asked some version of this question dozens of times. The premise is partly true, in that Obama has enjoyed some periods of positive coverage over the course of this campaign, but there was never any comparison between Washington reporters' feelings for the two presidential contenders. What happened last week with Gen. Wesley Clark made that all too clear, as do some emerging narratives that are moving right from the McCain campaign's mouth to reporters' pens. When Clark made the obvious point last Sunday that the fact that McCain was a prisoner of war in Vietnam does not necessarily qualify him to be president, the reaction of the elite media was swift and sure. Watch this amazing video compilation and see...


In honor of Independence Day, take a moment and check out what is probably the greatest rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner ever delivered. The song is widely agreed to be a musical abomination, almost impossible to sing in a pleasing way, no matter the talent of the singer. But there is at least one exception: Only Marvin Gaye could make the national anthem so damn sexy - just listen to the crowd squeal. Happy birthday, America! -- Paul Waldman