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

Your Morning Economic Pessimism.

With his usual clarity, Paul Krugma n explains why the current economic situation is looking a lot like 1938. It's not a pretty picture, and what's so bracing about Krugman's analysis is that despite the note of hope on which he ends, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that our current political situation makes doing what's necessary all but impossible: The economic moral is clear: when the economy is deeply depressed, the usual rules don’t apply. Austerity is self-defeating: when everyone tries to pay down debt at the same time, the result is depression and deflation, and debt problems grow even worse. And conversely, it is possible — indeed, necessary — for the nation as a whole to spend its way out of debt: a temporary surge of deficit spending, on a sufficient scale, can cure problems brought on by past excesses. But the story of 1938 also shows how hard it is to apply these insights. Even under F.D.R., there was never the political will to do what was needed to end the Great...

Will the Right's Coalition Hold?

Like all raucous celebrations, the Tea Party will eventually wind down.

A few weeks ago, two conservative culture-war mainstays, the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council (FRC), announced that they were launching a campaign to preserve the Bush tax cuts. It may have seemed odd -- after all, does the New Testament mandate low taxes for the wealthy? -- but you could see it as a bid for conservatives to retain their relevance, since the expiration of the tax cut is a looming battle, and in a bad economy their usual fights for Puritan sexual ethics have become less salient. It's also a good example of one of conservatives' greatest strengths: the willingness to stick together and work on behalf of causes that might seem outside their immediate interests. It's not that the left is incapable of doing the same, but such an approach doesn't seem quite as tightly woven into liberals' political DNA. There are efforts like the Blue Green Alliance , a coalition of labor and environmental groups advocating investments in renewable energy. But there you...

One Sharp-Looking Campaign.

Last year, I wrote a column about how the Obama design aesthetic -- including, but not limited to, the use of the Gotham font and the reassuring palette of blues the campaign used -- was spreading around the world. If you're into this kind of thing, we learn ( Via ) that Scott Thomas, the design director of the 2008 Obama campaign, has created a book called Designing Obama , which describes the process that went into creating the Obama visual brand. You can read the whole thing online, get a hardcover version, or, of course, get it for your iPad. It's safe to say that no campaign in history paid as much attention to design as the Obama campaign did (has any other campaign even had a design director?). But maybe it will set a trend. If our campaigns aren't going to get any more high-minded or edifying (and of course they won't), at least they might be more pleasing to the eye. -- Paul Waldman

The New York Times' Latest Bogus Trend Story.

If you opened up your New York Times today, you would have seen this headline on the front page: " In a Shift, Fewer Younger Voters See Themselves As Democrats ." More terrible news for the Dems! "There's a vibe," one college hunk says while pumping iron at the gym. "Right now it seems like Republicans just care a lot more than Democrats." Wow -- I guess the nation's young people are abandoning the Democratic Party in droves. So how big has this swing been? Ten points? Twenty points? Let's amble on down to the 21st paragraph of the story: Self-identification figures for Democrats — in national polls asking young people what party they lean more toward — peaked at 62 percent in July 2008 , according to the Pew Research Center. By late last year, the number had dropped eight percentage points, to 54 percent, though researchers saw an uptick earlier this year, back to 57 percent . Republican gains roughly mirrored Democratic losses. Well now. That doesn't seem so dramatic anymore, does...

Finding Real America.

One of the interesting things that happened after September 11, 2001, was that many of the people Sarah Palin calls "real Americans" -- meaning those who live in small towns away from the two coasts -- suddenly became big fans of New York City. This was, to put it mildly, a new development. For many Americans, New York is everything they can't stand. It's hard and fast and brash and noisy and expensive. The people there can sometimes be brusque, even rude. You don't like it when you hear somebody speaking Spanish down at the local pharmacy? New Yorkers speak 170 different languages . In 2000, there were almost 40,000 New Yorkers who spoke Urdu at home , and another 45,000 who spoke Tagalog, and 25,000 who spoke Hindi, and 58,000 who spoke Greek. Politicians regularly extol the virtues of small-town life, where everyone knows your name, neighbors help out neighbors, dads play catch with their kids, the smell of burgers on the barbecue floats down the street, folks are possessed of...