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

Insurance Fraud

In the health-care reform debate, the insurance lobby is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

When Barack Obama made the election promise of ambitious health-care reform in his first year in office, anyone who had paid attention to the issue would have predicted that the battle would be fierce. But one of the most curious developments of this debate has been that the group one would have thought would be leading the charge against reform – the health-insurance companies – has largely stayed quiet. They haven't aired attack ads, as they did in 1993, nor have they sent their representatives to the talk shows to blast the president and his efforts. Before we start rethinking whether the insurance companies are as malevolent as they've been made out to be (spoiler alert – yes, they are), it's worth noting just how remarkable their relative absence from this debate has been. Whatever else you can say about them, they're not the ones whipping up fear of "death panels," or comparing Obama to Hitler, or screeching about "socialized medicine." In fact, if you didn't know about their...

All the Rage Over Health-Care Reform

The ugliness of the opposition to health-care reform is a symptom of something much larger.

About 200 protesters wave signs and chant outside a townall meeting in Alaska where Sen. Mark Begich is speaking. The group is working to get Begich the hold a town hall meeting on President Obama's health care plan. (AP Photo/ Al Grillo)
If you've watched any of the growing library of YouTube videos depicting (mostly) middle-aged white guys yelling at their members of Congress during town meetings about health care, you may have had the following reaction: Why are these people so angry? Did that congressman kill that guy's dog or something? What the heck is going on here? One answer is that what is going on is a campaign of thuggery organized by a loose coalition of corporate-funded interest groups, lobbying firms specializing in "Astroturf" campaigns, and conservative organizations. But that's only part of the story. For all the strategizing by the usual right-wing suspects, the people being marshaled are there of their own volition, and they aren't acting. They may have been told where and when to appear by a Washington lobbying firm, but they are genuinely, sincerely, quiveringly mad. At present, their anger is being spat at the administration's attempt to reform health care. But that rage goes much deeper than any...

Health Care's Public Perception Malady

Don't count on successful health-care reform to change the public's attitudes about government.

For many years, it was hard to know whether the oft-told story of the elderly woman who walks up to her congressman, wags a finger in his face, and says, "Tell Washington to keep its hands off my Medicare!" was actually apocryphal. But today, this episode is being re-enacted over and over again, at town meetings and in coffee shops where politicians go to practice their phrenological arts, passing their fingers over the ever-changing bumps on the public's collective pate. One recent example came in a Washington Post article , in which Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican from South Carolina, related that an elderly constituent gave him this very instruction. The depressing punch line, however, was this: "I had to politely explain that, 'Actually, sir, your health care is being provided by the government,'" Inglis recalled. "But he wasn't having any of it." This anecdote is coming from a Republican almost guaranteed to vote against whatever health-care reform bill emerges from Congress. What...

The 10 Dumbest Arguments Against Health-Care Reform

The health-care debate has been overwhelmed by grumbling resistance. Too bad the complaints are largely groundless.

Somebody call the WAAAAAMBULANCE. (iStockphoto)
In order to reap democracy's fruits, we have to endure many sacrifices. The cost of enjoying the freedom to express our views is that we must tolerate the despicable views of others. Giving everyone the freedom to worship as they wish means that beliefs that could probably warrant intervention with powerful psychopharmacology are instead accorded the utmost respect. And a legislature made up of popularly elected representatives means that our laws are made by bodies that include no small number of liars, knaves, and fools. This is the democratic bargain. It's worth every penny, but there are times when it makes you want to scream. As the latest iteration of our once-every-generation-or-so effort to reform our disaster of a health-care system reaches its climax, we find ourselves at one of those times. The opponents of reform are getting serious now, and they've turned the volume on their megaphones of mendacity up to 11. Herewith, then, we have the 10 dumbest arguments currently...

Going Strong on the Wrong Message

The GOP became its own worst enemy during the Sotomayor hearings.

For many years, progressives have admired the strategic and rhetorical unity conservatives always manage to achieve whenever a new debate emerges. The fact that Republicans and their allies seem to speak with one voice -- making the same arguments, repeating the same talking points over and over -- gives them a leg up whenever the two sides are trying to persuade the public. Democrats and their allies, in contrast, are more often a cacophonous jumble of competing and contradictory messages, shooting off in all directions. This imbalance doesn't completely determine the outcome of events -- constantly repeating "personal accounts you control" wasn't going to make the American people agree to privatize Social Security, for instance. But it certainly works to the right's advantage. Or at least it does so long as the right's message isn't actively undermining its political goals. Which was exactly what we saw last week, making the confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor a unique...