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

Scare Tactics

What we're seeing now isn't racism; it's race-baiting.

Andrew Breitbart speaks during a news conference. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
The latest installment in our never-ending "conversation" about race is underway, thanks to the Shirley Sherrod affair. But before we get to the week's developments, a bit of history. In June of 1988, George H.W. Bush started telling a very scary story about his opponent, Michael Dukakis. Or rather, not so much about Dukakis, but about a man named Willie Horton. Horton, a prisoner in Massachusetts, had skipped from a furlough while Dukakis was governor and victimized a young couple, raping the woman and assaulting the man. There were some key points of the story Bush left out: The furlough program had been started by Dukakis' Republican predecessor, and Dukakis had ended it, for instance. Horton's name also wasn't actually "Willie" but William, and he had never been known by the name the Bush campaign was using. Bush also didn't mention that "Willie" Horton was black and his victims white, but he didn't have to -- Horton's menacing mug shot would soon be shown hundreds of times on the...

Opposites Don't Really Attract.

Literature and pop culture are full of characters who start off hating each other -- couples fated for romance, a black cop and a white cop thrown together unwillingly as partners, a new recruit and a grizzled old sergeant. They fight bitterly, then go through trials together, and come to realize that underneath all that arguing is love and trust. But how often has that happened to you in real life? It probably happened more often the opposite way -- you started off liking someone, then over time got into disagreements, until you finally realized that this person is kind of a jerk and you don't really want to have much to do with them. Your ex became your ex for a reason, your boss turned out to be a backstabbing liar, that sort-of-friend started to really get on your nerves. I bring this up because today, Reihan Salam , a member of a small but hardy band of reasonable conservatives, uses the Journolist imbroglio to make some interesting points : A distinguished art critic told a...

Is the Left Capable of Spreading Misinformation?

Today, E.J.Dionne takes on everyone's propensity to pick up bogus stories from the right, especially Fox News, which raises a point I've been thinking about: This goes way back. Al Gore never actually said he "invented the Internet," but you could be forgiven for not knowing this because the mainstream media kept reporting he had. There were no "death panels" in the Democratic health care bills. But this false charge got so much coverage that last August, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 45 percent of Americans thought the reform proposals would likely allow "the government to make decisions about when to stop providing medical care to the elderly." That was the summer when support for reform was dropping precipitously. A straight-out lie influenced the course of one of our most important debates. The traditional media are so petrified of being called "liberal" that they are prepared to allow the Breitbarts of the world to become their assignment editors. Mainstream...

CBO Says Public Option Would Reduce Defict; No Minds Changed

Sorry for the cynical headline, but the news that the Congressional Budget Office scored Rep. Pete Stark 's proposal to add a public option to the coming insurance exchanges as reducing the deficit by $53 billion through 2019 is all well and good, but it won't change the minds of anyone who opposed it the first time around. First of all, there is virtually no such thing as a true "deficit hawk" in Washington. Concern about deficits is a handy excuse everyone uses to justify cuts in programs they already don't like. Democrats are at least a little more honest about it, pointing out that there are times you need to increase the deficit in the short term, while Republicans just say that we need to cut programs that help ordinary people so we can reduce the deficit, but things like defense spending and tax cuts for the wealthy just don't count. So saying, "This program you don't like would cut the deficit" isn't going to persuade anyone who didn't already support it to come on board. If...

This Is How You Talk to a Bully.

Why Rachel Maddow continues to be the smartest person on television: Visit for breaking news , world news , and news about the economy -- Paul Waldman