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

More Non-Sucky Government Websites, Please.

The Sunlight Foundation just announced the winners of its Design for America contest, in which they asked designers to come up with innovative visualizations of government data, and things like redesigns of government websites. Not every one will change your life, but there are definitely some great ideas there. For instance, look at the proposal for a redesign of the IRS website by a design firm called A Good Company; then look at the big bag of nothing that is the actual IRS website . The difference shows just how useful, informative, and generally pleasing government websites could be, and how bad they often are. Here's a quick video that shows some of what the Sunlight Foundation's contest inspired: -- Paul Waldman

Defense and Deficit Hawkery.

When the House passed a defense authorization bill last week, the big news was that an amendment providing for the repeal of the ban on gays serving in the military was included. But there was something else notable about it too: the price tag. The bill came to $726 billion. In a break from the Bush years, it actually provides for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of declaring those to be "emergency" spending, as though we didn't see it coming. But here's what I'd like to know: Where are all those "fiscal conservatives" who said that it just cost too darn much to extend unemployment benefits? That we have to live within our means, and stop borrowing money? That the government needs fiscal discipline? That the deficit is a time bomb that will obliterate us all? Where were they? Nowhere. They're quite happy to borrow hundreds of billions to spend on defense, because they just happen to like spending money on defense. They don't find unemployment benefits, or health care, or...

The Final DADT Battle

What was once a divisive question has now become about as close to a matter of consensus as we get in American politics these days.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (DoD/Chad J. McNeeley)
Ask a schoolchild about the civil-rights movement, and he'll tell you that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, then Martin Luther King Jr. gave the "I Have a Dream" speech, then some laws were passed, and now everyone's equal. The truth, of course, is that things moved much slower than that. Ten years passed between the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ordering the desegregation of schools, and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, for instance. And if legal changes are slow, changes in beliefs and attitudes can be glacial in their progress. It's been 17 years since Bill Clinton tried unsuccessfully to remove the ban on gay Americans serving in the armed forces, which resulted in the disastrous policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT). Last week saw the latest development in this ongoing saga: On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the defense authorization bill, which would repeal the ban, and a few hours later,...

One Step Closer to Ending the Ban on Gays in the Military

The momentum continues : Congress has taken two big steps toward ending the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. In quick succession Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee and the full House approved measures to repeal the 1993 law that allows gay people to serve in the armed services only if they hide their sexual orientation. ... The drive to end the ban still has a long way to go. The 234-194 House vote was an amendment to a defense spending bill that comes up for a final vote Friday. While the spending bill, which approves more than $700 billion in funds for military operations, enjoys wide support, some lawmakers vowed to vote against it if the "don't ask, don't tell" repeal was included. ... The full Senate is expected to take up the defense bill next month, and Republicans are threatening a filibuster if the change in policy toward gays remains in the legislation. Of course they are. But given the overwhelming public support...

The Localism Problem

We have a conceit in this country that the closer power gets to "the people," the more virtuous it is. Your local town council members are fine upstanding folks, your state legislature is still close enough to be "in touch," but those people up in Washington don't know or care a darn bit about you, and are probably on the take. The truth, however, is that Congress is probably less corrupt than at any point in our history. Real old-fashioned corruption, of the briefcase-full-of-cash kind, is extremely rare (though it still happens, as with William Jefferson , he of the $90,000 stuffed in the freezer). That isn't to say that malfeasance doesn't still occur, not to mention the many things that ought to be illegal but aren't, like taking campaign contributions from industries your committee regulates. But on the whole, today's member of Congress is far less likely to be corrupt than her counterpart of 100 years ago. It's nice to get a reminder now and then that the real brazen stuff is...