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

What We Talk About When We Talk About Obama

Now that he's president, this theorizing about what type of president we're going to get -- a hidden socialist? a compulsive compromiser? a master strategist? -- will be put to the test.

In The Audacity of Hope, the book Barack Obama penned in advance of his presidential campaign (as all good candidates do these days), he was rather candid about his political image. "I'm new enough on the national political scene," he wrote, "that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views. As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them." As Obama takes the oath of office, he can no longer benefit from people simply assuming he agrees with them. Instead of talking about what he might do with power, as of today he will actually wield it. In the months since he won the Democratic nomination, a series of images of Obama have been constructed by his admirers and foes, assembled out of bits and pieces of reality. Out of an offhand statement here, a policy proposal there, and mostly the observer's own hunches, hopes, and fears, they offer radically different interpretations of the man whom as of today we can finally...

The Bush Legacy Takes Shape

As you might guess, it's not quite what his supporters have in mind. Despite Republicans' long-standing claims of being the party of fiscal responsibility and growth, Bush has overseen eight years of economic disaster.

In the late 1990s, Grover Norquist and some other conservative activists realized that all across the country, Americans were landing in airports, driving on roads, and attending junior high schools named after such non-conservatives as Thomas Jefferson, John Kennedy, and Franklin Roosevelt. To remedy this state of affairs, they started the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, whose primary goal was to get something named after the 40th president in every last county in America, not to mention getting Reagan on the $10 bill. (And yes, they have a Web site . My favorite part of the site is the page titled "This Day in Reagan History," , which reads, in its entirety, "This is where content goes." So true.) Silly as it might sound, this is actually serious business, as it concerns our national memory and the way future generations understand our history. Those who appreciate this include the supporters of the man who will be president for just one more week. Whenever George W. Bush himself gets...

What Will the Next Republican Coalition Look Like?

Forty years ago, "the unpoor, the unblack, and the unyoung" provided a comfortable majority for Republicans, but no longer.

You may have heard recently about the interesting case of Chip Saltsman, the candidate for chairman of the Republican National Committee, who as part of his campaign sent around a CD of song parodies, including one called "Barack the Magic Negro" that came from Rush Limbaugh's radio show. Most people didn't hear about the rest of the CD, as it was described by The Hill : "The CD, called 'We Hate the USA,' lampoons liberals with such songs as 'John Edwards' Poverty Tour,' 'Wright place, wrong pastor,' 'Love Client #9,' 'Ivory and Ebony' and 'The Star Spanglish banner.'" The humor-loving Saltsman of Tennessee was said to have been aided, not hurt, in his candidacy by the dust-up that ensued. Watching this story, I couldn’t help but think of Ken Mehlman, who managed George W. Bush's reelection campaign and then became chairman of the Republican National Committee. In 2005, Mehlman went on a kind of apology tour, including an appearance before the NAACP, in which he said, "Some...

The Public Option and the Hope of Health Care Reform

Democrats' discussion of health care reform points to just how much the debate over health care reform has moved forward.

Since the remarkable results of Nov. 4, there has been much discussion about the new progressive moment in which America finds itself. But it has actually been evident for some time that we're talking about old issues in new ways. Let's take just one -- health care reform-- which could actually happen next year. One thing we know is that there will be a serious, even vicious fight over the issue. What we don't know is whether President-elect Obama will seize the moment, or succumb to the same fear that has stayed Democrats' hands for so long. In the presidential primaries, all three top Democratic candidates -- Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards -- featured in their health care plans something that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, a public option. The public option is a government health insurance program akin to Medicare, which would be open to anyone. Credit should go to Edwards, who not only was the first of the three to propose it, but who said that if so...

Nobody Here But Us Post-Partisans

Barack Obama hasn't even taken office yet, and progressives are already debating his presidency. Does it matter if Barack Obama doesn't call his policies progressive?

President-elect Barack Obama, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Barack Obama hasn't even taken office yet, and progressives have been debating his presidency with such energy it almost feels like it's time to start arguing about his legacy. Let it never be said that we're not forward-looking. Last week, Steve Hildebrand, one of Obama's key campaign aides, took to the Huffington Post to tell the left wing of the party to ease up on criticisms of Obama for not appointing a more explicitly progressive Cabinet; predictable fury, of the "who are you telling to shut up?" variety, ensued. The press was only too excited to rewrite the "Democrats divided!" story they've been penning over and over for the last few decades. But the truth is that while some have taken exception to some of Obama's appointments, on the whole, progressives are quite pleased with him so far. As former Prospect editor Michael Tomasky wrote , "I'm not nervous or flat-out angry or even concerned. I'm excited. And by the way, the vast majority of the people I know are excited, too."...