Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is a weekly columnist and senior writer for The American Prospect. He also writes for the Plum Line blog at The Washington Post and The Week and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

The Truth About Illegal Immigration.

When you ask an anti-immigration advocate these days why the issue has suddenly demanded such draconian measures as Arizona's controversial SB 1070, the response is invariably that the problem has become so acute that we simply must do something. This is how John McCain explained his flip-flop from sponsor of a comprehensive reform bill to a "complete the danged fence" tough talker . They'll also say that Barack Obama has been ignoring the problem, perhaps because doing so fits in with his larger project of destroying America. But the truth is just the opposite. As I've pointed out before , the federal budget for customs and enforcement has doubled since 2004, and we now have nearly twice as many Border Patrol agents as we did five years ago. That all started during the Bush administration, but it has continued under Obama. Not only that, Obama has dramatically increased the number of deportations and audits of companies to make sure they aren't employing undocumented workers. And now...

Today's Sarah Palin News.

Today's Sarah Palin news is a juicy, gossipy article in Vanity Fair, which gives us stuff like this: Warm and effusive in public, indifferent or angry in private: this is the pattern of Palin’s behavior toward the people who make her life possible. A onetime gubernatorial aide to Palin says, “The people who have worked for her—they’re broken, used, stepped on, down in the dust.” On the 2008 campaign trail, one close aide recalls, it was practically impossible to persuade Palin to take a moment to thank the kitchen workers at fund-raising dinners. During the campaign, Palin lashed out at the slightest provocation, sometimes screaming at staff members and throwing objects. Witnessing such behavior, one aide asked Todd Palin if it was typical of his wife. He answered, “You just got to let her go through it. … Half the stuff that comes out of her mouth she doesn’t even mean.” When a campaign aide gingerly asked Todd whether Sarah should consider taking psychiatric medication to control...

Obama and Iraq.

Marc Ambinder reminds us of something in advance of President Obam a 's Oval Office speech: We forget how integral Sen. Barack Obama's decision to oppose the Iraq war was to his own political awakening, and how many contortions Hillary Clinton had to untwist in order to justify her own support for the war authority, and how, by the day of the general election, given the success of the surge (or the success of JSOC's counterterrorism efforts), Iraq was no longer a central voting issue. Voters seemed to exorcise that demon in 2006, when they voted Democrats into Congress. After the recession, and the election, and the health-care battle, and the rise of the Tea Party, the days when we spent all our time arguing about Iraq seem like they were decades ago. And it's safe to say that Iraq wasn't just central to Obama's political awakening, it was one of the half-dozen or so factors he couldn't have been elected without. You may recall that he was alone among the top candidates in having...

More Depressing Poll Results.

More from today's depressing poll results, from Newsweek we learn that not only do many Americans think Barack Obama is Muslim (24 percent in this one), but majorities of Republicans not only think Obama is favoring Muslims over other Americans, he's also sympathetic to al-Qaeda's goals. I made a couple of charts: Yes, that's right: Fully 52 percent of Republicans think Obama "sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world." Sigh. -- Paul Waldman

Whose Media Bias?

Progressives' attempt to reshape the media has had some successes, but the failures may be more instructive.

In this Aug. 24, 2004, photo, former Air America radio host Al Franken is seen during a news conference in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
When Air America finally shut its doors early this year, it wasn't front-page news. Plagued by mismanagement and multiple ownership changes, the progressive radio network had failed to turn its respectable ratings into profits, even though it made a U.S. senator out of its first marquee personality, Al Franken, and a television star out of its last, Rachel Maddow. When it finally went off the air, most of the people who were supposed to be its target audience probably didn't notice. Air America was part of a complex project the left began to undertake about a decade ago, one that involved millions of dollars and hundreds of activists, donors, strategists, scholars, and writers both inside Washington and around the country. It was no conspiracy -- its aims were declared publicly in every communication medium available: to duplicate conservatives' success in influencing the media. When this effort began in earnest after the 2000 election, progressives saw mainstream journalists cowed by...