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

No Country for Straw Men

Some on the right have cast the president as their own personal villain. When facts won't convince them that a dictatorship isn't nigh, there's no point in arguing.

Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin waves goodbye after her speech during the NRA national convention in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, May 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
History, the novelist Milan Kundera wrote, is but a thin thread stretched across the ocean of what is forgotten. This may explain why the further back you go into American history, the more consensus there tends to be about our presidents. If you wanted to come up with a revisionist view of George Washington, it would require a lot of work, since what most of us have at hand are a few images -- the first president at Valley Forge, crossing the Delaware, nobly stepping down for the good of the country. But one of the many advantages of the modern age is the ready availability of the raw materials out of which we can construct our own convincing version of contemporary political reality. Pour a foundation out of imaginary concrete, erect joists and beams of speculation, place a thousand bricks of tendentious conclusions, and before you know it, the structure is impervious to any assault by facts. You will have made your own imagined Barack Obama, in whatever shape you like. Pick a...

Do You Know About the Holograms?

During the health-care debate, progressives got to know, and intensely dislike, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Doing his best to move from object of scorn to object of mockery, yesterday he offered up a gem to rival Ted Stevens ' immortal declaration that "the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes." Behold : The Nebraska Democrat pleaded ignorance when asked this week whether Congress should cap ATM fees. Nelson said that while he's no fan of unnecessary fees, he's unfamiliar with the charges. "I've never used an ATM, so I don't know what the fees are,” Nelson said, adding that he gets his cash from bank tellers, just not automatic ones. “It's true, I don't know how to use one. "But I could learn how to do it just like I've. ... I swipe to get my own gas, buy groceries. I know about the holograms." By "holograms,” Nelson clarified that he meant the bar codes on products read by automatic scanners in the checkout lanes at stores...

Submit, Puny Earthlings, to Your New Olympic Overlords.

(Image: London 2012) The horrifying monsters in this photo are Wenlock and Mandeville, the just-unveiled mascots for the 2012 London Olympics . They've got videos !. They've each got their own Twitter feed ! They'll hypnotize you with their cyclops eyes before crushing your skull in their mandible claw-hands! For some reason, the organizing committee of every Olympics feels the need to come up with an alien mascot, which is supposed to be fun and inviting, imparting to us all the excitement of sporting competition in a huggable package. Yet without exception, they come out looking either stupid or frightening, leading to universal mockery. So why bother? It's not as though Wenlock and Mandeville will make anyone say, "Man, I really do have to get tickets to see Usain Bolt run!" If anyone has any ideas for American Prospect mascots, please submit a description in comments, along with a link to where we can see either your drawings or your lovingly sewn mock-up. -- Paul Waldman

The Unbearable Lightness of Rand Paul.

Brad DeLong passes along some choice words from Kentucky Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul , the newest star of the GOP: Q: You want to be a senator from Kentucky, which is a relatively poor and unhealthy state. What do you propose to do to enrich the lives of Kentuckians, if you are elected senator? A: Well, I think Kentucky would do better, and we all would do better, if we sent less money to Washington... Maybe we need to rethink how we fix things. For example, not only did we steal the Indians' land and put them on reservations, we destroyed their spirit you know by putting them on reservations. I think in some ways the culture of dependency on government destroys people's spirits. Maybe we lift people up in eastern Kentucky by giving them a tax holiday for a year, you know. You have to have jobs coming from businessmen and women. And maybe have no taxes in counties that have fifteen percent unemployment. See if you can get people working again. Okaaaaaay. So no taxes for a year...

Still Imprisoned In Iran.

You no doubt remember the story of Laura Ling and Euna Lee , the two reporters who were detained last year by the North Korean government. They had some advantages in getting their release secured -- their boss at Current TV was Al Gore , a somewhat influential guy, and Ling's sister is Lisa Ling , a well-known television journalist who can pick up the phone and get important officials on the line (the two sisters have just released a book about the affair). After some wrangling, Bill Clinton personally brokered their release -- a happy ending for all concerned. There's a similar case that, if you heard about it at the time, you've almost completely forgotten by now. It's that of Shane Bauer , Sarah Shourd , and Josh Fattal , three Americans who on a self-guided adventure trip to Kurdistan in July 2009, went hiking and wandered over the Iranian border, then were arrested and accused of being CIA spies. Bauer, Shourd, and Fattal have been locked up in the notorious Evin prison ever...