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

Al Gore and the Gaffe Wars

Gore's Nobel Prize win was a well-deserved honor for one of our finest politicians. It's also a stark reminder of how far into trivia the race to the presidency has fallen.

When Al Gore finished his brief statement to the press upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize last Friday, he walked from the lectern, ignoring the shouted questions from reporters about whether he would now make another run at the White House. Given how he was treated by the press eight years ago, it would be shocking if Gore had the stomach for another run. What the press has been up to lately demonstrates exactly why, and makes each new accolade Gore receives all the more poignant. Distracted for a moment, the pundits soon turned their attention back to the tool with which they had made such mincemeat out of Gore -- the search for the latest campaign "gaffe," those moments in which a candidate violates the rules the press has established to separate acceptable from unacceptable behavior. This week's perpetrator was Mitt Romney, who when asked in a debate whether military action against Iran's nuclear facilities would require authorization from Congress, quite sensibly said, "You sit...

RISKING THEIR LIVES.

One of the most positive developments in our national debate in recent years has been the great respect and appreciation offered to American soldiers. As divisive as the Iraq war has been, everyone on both sides acknowledges that those doing the fighting are enduring enormously trying circumstances with admirable courage. It is now a common sight to see strangers approach soldiers in an airport or on the street to thank them for their service to the country. But we don't often hear people offering the same kind of praise to the journalists who are performing a service just as valuable, and in many cases just as risky. Today's Washington Post contains a story about one of their reporters, Salih Saif Aldin , who was murdered yesterday in Baghdad. He was 32 years old, a father who risked his life every day because he believed that the world should understand what is happening in his country. Aldin had endured death threats, beatings, and countless dangerous situations to enable the Post...

BLAMING SOCIETY FIRST

Yesterday afternoon, Fox News brought on Newt Gingrich to discuss the school shooting in Cleveland, with predictable results. I don't have a link to the video or transcript, but Newt argued that the reason this happened is our depraved society, in which respect for authority has been eroded to the point where...well, I guess to the point where kids have so little respect for their teachers and parents that they'll try to kill their classmates, then commit suicide. If only this boy had been more afraid of getting grounded, this never would have happened. This is nothing new for Newt; you may recall that he blamed the Virginia Tech shooting and the Columbine massacre on liberalism, as well as what might have been his all-time high point, the Susan Smith case. In 1994, Smith put her two kids in her car, then pushed it into a lake. Just before that year's congressional election, the Associated Press reported the following: "I think the mother killing her two children in South Carolina...

The Dems' Big Business Opportunity

The momentum behind health care reform gives Democrats a good chance to prove that Republicans aren't always good for business.

Last Tuesday, a remarkable article appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal , able chronicler of the interests and habits of America's economic elite. " GOP Is Losing Grip On Core Business Vote ," it read, no doubt causing more than a few Republican strategists to spit out their morning coffee. "Some business leaders are drifting away from the party," according to the Journal , "because of the war in Iraq, the growing federal debt and a conservative social agenda they don't share." Well it's about time. It isn't as though the captains of industry just realized that the Republican coalition they've been supporting for its economic agenda happens to include people whose every waking hour is consumed with the thought that somewhere, two men are kissing. But their social conservative partners become harder to tolerate, apparently, when the party they all have supported puts together such a stunning record of incompetence. What the business elite doesn't seem to have realized...

A GUY CAN DREAM, CAN'T HE?

Now that people are actually attacking Barack Obama for saying that he doesn't wear an American flag pin because it isn't all that meaningful, one wonders if this might be an opportunity for us to have a genuine discussion about different varieties of patriotism. This is a pretty clear conservative/progressive split. Conservatives are huge fans of symbolic patriotism -- flag lapel pins, flags on cars, full-throated singing of "God Bless the U.S.A." (aka "Proud to Be an American"), and so on -- public displays, in which one demonstrates to other people that one loves America. Progressives, on the other hand, tend to favor substantive patriotism, which involves doing things to make one's country better. After all, if progressives really hated America, why would they even want to change it in ways that would make it conform more with their values? That would mean, from their perspective, making it better, something you wouldn't do if you just hated the country. I hate the Yankees, so if...

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