Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a contributing editor for the Prospect and the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

Will the Next President Lift the Ban on Gays in the Military?

What will our military look like in the years to come? Depends on if the next president addresses the increasingly unpopular "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

This presidential campaign has seen plenty of platitudes on matters of national security but precious little real discussion about what America's armed forces will look like in the years to come. There are extraordinary challenges ahead, not the least of which is rebuilding a military utterly spent by the war in Iraq. As for the people who would be commander in chief, we know that all the remaining candidates want to defeat terrorism and keep America strong. In other words, we don't know much at all. There are many facets to the issue of our military's future, but for the moment I want to discuss just one: whether the ban on gays serving in the military will finally be repealed. Of the 26 countries in the NATO alliance, only Portugal, Greece, Turkey—and the United States—ban gays from serving in the military. Other countries have reported no problems integrating gay service members into their military. This is true even in Israel, where they take military matters very, very seriously...

PAGING PAT PAULSEN

In his continuing campaign to become a walking punchline, Ralph Nader is running for president. Again. Four years ago, Harold, Matt, Garance and I ruminated on the prospect of what then the second Nader run. We all agreed it was a really bad idea. The question I'd like to hear Nader answer now is, "Why president?" I agree with much of the substantive critique Nader offers of the state of American government. But I have yet to hear him offer much of an explanation of why he thinks him embarking on another presidential campaign will do anything to address the problems he identifies. At the end of Nader for President 3.0, will corporate America's grip on the legislative process be loosened? Will we be closer to getting a more environmentally sound energy policy? Will the problem of widening inequality start to be addressed? Is there any imaginable way in which this campaign will have any impact on the problems he professes to care about? Ralph Nader accomplished great things in his life...

ARMING UP FOR THE GENERAL.

The particulars of what Barack Obama actually "pledged" to do on public financing notwithstanding, it's pretty clear that what coverage there has been of this issue assumes it's an ironclad pledge. Obviously, it would be of great benefit to Obama to opt out of the system, because as of now it appears he'd be likely to raise far more money than John McCain . So how can he opt out and still save face? The answer is: 527s. No, I don't mean that he should encourage people to organize 527s on his behalf. But he can use the very well-funded Republican 527s as the lever to enable him to opt out. The argument would go something like this: "I said I would 'aggressively pursue an agreement to preserve a publicly financed election' with my Republican opponent. And I'm happy to have our two campaigns sit down and see if there is a way to make the debate between me and John McCain, within the publicly financed system. But as long as there are 'independent' Republican groups out there planning on...

The Triumph of Narrative

Of all the things Barack Obama has done right this campaign, none may be more important than the fact that he has told a story perfectly keyed to the current moment in history.

This has been about as interesting and unpredictable a presidential primary campaign as any political junkie could have hoped for, and few would be foolish enough to say they know for certain what will happen next. But at the moment, Barack Obama has momentum and a lead in delegates, and Hillary Clinton will have to pull out overwhelming victories in nearly every contest from here to the end of the primaries if she is to become the Democratic nominee. Though we may or may not have reached the end of the unexpected upsets and dramatic reversals of the primaries, much less the general election to come, there is no doubt that of all the people who ran for president this year, Obama has run the smartest and most skilled campaign. But of all the things he has done right, none may be more important than the fact that he has told far and away the best story. This is a topic I addressed in two previous columns, and now that one nominee is chosen and the other will be soon (at least within a...

STICKS AND STONES...

Here's the ad Dana mentioned below , and we should note that it is, at long last, the first negative ad of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Drumroll, please... If nothing else, this just proves how civil this race has been. While lots of people complain about how dirty and nasty today's campaigns are, candidates today might as well be firing cannons filled with nerf balls compared to what used to go on. Andrew Jackson 's opponents distributed pamphlets accusing him of being "a gambler, a cock fighter, a slave trader and the husband of a really fat wife." Now that's some negative campaigning! Or how about Karl Rove spreading rumors that his client's opponent was a pedophile? Ah, the good old days. But what do we have here? Hillary Clinton comes out with guns blazing and accuses Barack Obama of ... not wanting to participate in enough debates. I'm outraged. I suppose the problem at the moment for Clinton is that the story she's been telling about Obama all along - that he doesn...

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