Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger, and a contributing editor. 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 Ideal Opponent

Who are our potential presidents hoping to run against in the general election? Here's a rundown of the front-runners' ideal match-ups.
And, on TAPPED, Dana Goldstein, Scott Lemieux, Kate Sheppard, and Rob Farley discuss match-ups.

We are, at long last, nearing the time when the two parties will be choosing their nominees, and more than one candidate is thinking about whom they'd most like to face in the general election. Fortunately for us political junkies, the races on both sides present a fascinating cast of characters, full of strengths and weaknesses. While some carry more of one than the other, there are no obvious losers among each party's leading contenders, none whose supporters seem destined to say, "How on earth did we nominate that joker?" (Although you never know what next fall may bring.) As I described in two earlier columns , successful presidential candidates weave compelling narratives around their candidacies. The most successful incorporate their opponents into those narrative as villains or goats, so that their stories paint the candidates as two sides of a finely etched coin, one strong and secure, inspiring and reassuring, the other twisted and ugly -- frightening or pathetic or both. So...

THAT'S ONE WAY TO SECURE THE BASE.

The Virginia Republican Party is serving voters that precious combination of desperation and authoritarian impulse for which the national GOP is becoming known: The Republican Party of Virginia wants voters in the Feb. 12 GOP presidential primary to sign a pledge that they will support the party's nominee. The state Board of Elections approved the request yesterday. Those who wish to cast a ballot in the Republican presidential primary will have to sign a statement that says, "I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president." Here's another plan: the week before the election, we kidnap every child in the state, and tell voters that unless the Republicans win, they don't get their kids back! -- Paul Waldman

HE'S GOOD PEOPLE, THAT BERNIE.

Let's say you want to renovate your house, but you don't have the quarter million dollars it's going to cost lying around. What do you do? Get a home equity loan? Pshaw - that's for little people. Me, I get an Israeli billionaire defense contractor to give the money to a Brooklyn marble salesman, who then cuts me a check. That's what I do. Or at least that's what you do if you're Bernie Kerik . Lots of people probably missed this latest revelation in the saga of Kerik, Rudy Giuliani 's erstwhile right hand man, coming as it did over the holiday. But as the New York Times reported on Saturday, the money started with one Eitan Wertheimer , an Israeli industrialist "whose family’s vast holdings include companies with United States Defense Department contracts." Wertheimer gave the money to Shimon Cohen , described by the Times as "a marble and stone merchant who has been a friend of Mr. Kerik’s for several years." This all happened in 2003. Then two years ago, city investigators looking...

The Youth Vote, the Culture Wars, and Barack Obama

Young voters are particularly important in this election, not because they alone will pick the next president, but because of what their increasingly progressive attitudes suggest about the evolution of politics.

Above: Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks to supporters during a fundraising event last weekend in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Rodolfo Gonzalez)
It seems that every four years, someone pops up to say that this will be the election determined by the young, that they will mobilize and vote as never before, forcing the candidates to look not to the nursing home and the Elks Club for the crucial votes, but to... well, to wherever it is the kids hang out these days. And after the election, graying commentators note with a contemptuous chuckle that once again, the young stayed home, too busy with their video games and their clubbing and their youthful indiscretions to bother to vote. There's a fundamental fallacy in any analysis that says that one particular group is the "key" voting bloc, whether it's soccer moms or NASCAR dads or whoever. In a close election, every group is a key group whose votes determine the outcome. We'd now be winding down the Gore presidency had he only been able to persuade 537 more of Florida's Lithuanian haberdashers to come to his side. But young voters are in fact particularly important in this election...

Loving Pat Robertson

Discussion of Robertson's endorsement of Giuliani has conveniently ignored the fact that Robertson is a controversial, extreme figure even among conservatives. What we really need to consider is what this will mean for the tone of next year's election.

It has become a familiar ritual: highly ideological political actor says something shocking or controversial; media demand that establishment figures of the same political stripe repudiate the remarks; the other side attacks the establishment figures for their tolerance of extremists in their midst. One might think this is the natural reaction of those champions of moderation and centrism, the pleadings of the reasonable middle to marginalize the extremes. One might, were it not for the fact that the second step in the pattern -- the media demands for repudiation -- seems to happen far more often to Democrats than to Republicans, who are seldom asked to “distance themselves” from their less levelheaded brethren. Left-wing extremists (and many not so extreme at all) are treated with scorn and contempt, their controversial statements held up as dire threats to the survival of the Republic. Right-wing extremists, on the other hand, are considered players whose opinions should be sought...

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