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

Trickle-Down Politics

The influence held by partisan elites is a disperse -- but far-reaching -- kind of power.

"How can they possibly think that?" It's a sentiment you've probably expressed at one time or another when witnessing the wrong-headedness of people on the other side of a political debate. And it comes up not just on matters of philosophy but on matters of fact. It's not just politicians and pundits anymore: We're seeing substantial portions of the public coming to positions that seem absurd or reprehensible -- and that they might not have believed just a short time ago. It's increasingly evident in part because we just had a transfer of power, and the old adage "Where you stand depends on where you sit" has never seemed truer. While the Obama administration has reversed itself on a few policies, Republicans in particular seem to be training for the hypocrisy Olympics. Dick Cheney and Karl Rove argue on TV for more government openness because they want some documents declassified, which is kind of like Donald Trump advocating for more frugality and modesty. Those who gleefully...

It's the End of the World As They Know It

The American right appears to be going insane. And over what?

Now that you've had an entire week to get over the trauma of filing your tax return, it might be a good time to step back from all the overheated rhetoric and acknowledge a few important facts about being American in these troubled times. No, we don't suffer under a terribly burdensome, confiscatory tax regime. And yes, our taxes actually buy us some pretty important stuff. But you'd never know that, given just how crazy the coming of April 15 makes some people. Depending on who's in the White House, that is. I speak, of course, about the "tea parties" we saw last week, a happening destined for inclusion in the hall of fame of fabricated political oddities. To retell the story briefly: In February, a CNBC reporter and former commodities trader named Rick Santelli went on an on-air rant against the Obama administration for proposing to bail out homeowners in danger of foreclosure, saying that what was needed was a "Chicago tea party." Sensing the opportunity to harness populist anger,...

We've Already Won the Battle Over Gay Marriage

Public support for marriage equality is on the rise, and it is conservatives who are ceding ground.

Gay marriage advocate Beth Robinson, center, holds back tears following the passage of a gay marriage bill in Vermont. The state became the fourth to legalize gay marriage last Tuesday. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
It sometimes seems as though American domestic political history is one long conflict between the guardians of tradition and the forces of progress. The controversies change, but the essence of the battle remains the same, whether the contestants are arguing over slavery, women's suffrage, Jim Crow, or abortion rights. But though the larger culture war continues, one by one these controversies can get settled, and we reach a consensus on which side was wrong and which side was right. Today, the hottest culture war issue is gay rights, specifically marriage equality. Although most conservatives will be loath to admit it, this battle is over, and they have lost. Not that there won't be plenty more arguing, and fights in courts and legislatures and at the ballot box -- there will be, and it will take years before there are no more skirmishes. But the outcome is no longer in doubt. We know this not only because of the extraordinary events of the last couple of weeks, but because of how...

The President's Aesthetic Goes Global

Elements of the Obama campaign's design have become nearly as iconic as the president himself.

Editors' Note: This piece has been corrected . If you were watching the leaders of the G-20 nations speak to the world at their recently concluded summit in London, you might have noticed something familiar. Something modern yet comforting, authoritative without being stern, confident but not showy. I'm not talking about President Barack Obama or any of the other assembled presidents and prime ministers. I'm talking about a typeface. More than a few people probably said what I did when they looked at the G-20 logo: “Isn’t that Barack Obama’s font?” Actually, it wasn’t. But the typeface the G-20 used, called Gill Sans, is in its capital letters nearly identical to Gotham, the font the Obama campaign brought to the world’s attention (the text on the podiums and banners was in all caps, making it easy to mistake it for Gotham). Gotham and fonts that are close enough to be mistaken for it are spreading all over the world, used by those who want to communicate a particular set of ideas...

Who's Afraid of New Media?

Obama hasn't shied away from engaging with the new vanguard of media. And the only people who seem bothered by this choice? Old-media reporters.

On Jan. 25, 1961, the dashing new president of the United States delivered the first presidential press conference to be televised live. Amid numerous questions about tensions with the Soviet Union and upcoming domestic legislation came this query: "Mr. President, there has been some apprehension about the instantaneous broadcasts of presidential press conferences such as this one, and the contention being that an inadvertent statement is no longer correctible, as in the old days, could possibly cause some grave consequences. Do you feel that there is any risk or could you give us some thought on that?" Imagine that -- a reporter, concerned that the president might commit an embarrassing gaffe that the public would hear. But there weren’t many of those, as the informed and charming Kennedy. But what became clear in that press conference and subsequent ones was that John F. Kennedy didn't have much to worry about. Standing before the White House press corps, Kennedy was informed,...