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

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


We know John and Cindy McCain are seriously wealthy - Cindy's fortune has been estimated at $100 million, and they have seven, yes, seven homes (if you're keeping track at home, there's the estate in Sedona, which has two houses on it, the $4.7 million condo in Phoenix, the condo in Arlington, VA, the condo in La Jolla, and the two condos in Coronado, California). But today, Politico managed to unearth a few juicy details that show us just what kind of a lifestyle that gets you. Sure, Cindy buys $3000 suits - not that big a deal. But here are some other interesting points: Since 2004, they've spent $11 million on real estate. At times, Cindy has charged as much as $500,000 on one credit card and $250,000 on another in a single month . You really have to work hard to charge three quarters of a million dollars in one month. What is she buying, gold-plated Ferraris? Though the McCains spent a modest $184,000 on household staff in 2006, in 2007 they spent $273,000. And who can blame them...

McCain: Noun, Verb, Terrorism

For all John McCain's supposed experience, he has the same absurdly simplistic and factually ignorant understanding of the problem as President Bush.

John McCain's campaign has a problem: it just doesn't have much to talk about. According to the latest polls by Fortune magazine what the gravest long-term threat to the U.S. economy is, McCain answered, "Well, I would think that the absolute gravest threat is the struggle that we're in against radical Islamic extremism, which can affect, if they prevail, our very existence. Another successful attack on the United States of America could have devastating consequences." Putting aside the question of whether there might be more serious threats to the economy (The housing meltdown? Exploding gas prices?), it's hard to avoid the conclusion that anyone who thinks that Islamic terrorists might succeed in literally destroying America -- "our very existence," as McCain says -- is either a certifiable paranoiac or a complete fool. Given that, it is remarkable how often McCain asserts that Barack Obama "doesn't understand" terrorism, as though unlike McCain, Obama just hasn't spent enough time...


Following up on Tim's post below, there are a couple of important things to note about McCain 's allegedly courageous acts of apostasy. First of all, why exactly is it that going against your party is "courageous"? It's courageous if your goal is to rise within your party to become, say, Senate Minority Leader. But that was never McCain's goal. If your goal is to become president, as McCain's has always been, then there is a relatively minor cost to bucking your party - you might have some trouble picking up future endorsements, for instance. But there are much more substantial benefits to be gained. McCain certainly knows that when he votes with Democrats, he will be almost guaranteed to earn the admiration of the press, which worships "rebels." He also knows that unlike other members of the Senate who actually buck their party much more often than he does ( Ben Nelson , Olympia Snowe , etc.), when he crosses the aisle he will become the starring player in the story the press will...