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


Here's the ad Dana mentioned below , and we should note that it is, at long last, the first negative ad of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. Drumroll, please... If nothing else, this just proves how civil this race has been. While lots of people complain about how dirty and nasty today's campaigns are, candidates today might as well be firing cannons filled with nerf balls compared to what used to go on. Andrew Jackson 's opponents distributed pamphlets accusing him of being "a gambler, a cock fighter, a slave trader and the husband of a really fat wife." Now that's some negative campaigning! Or how about Karl Rove spreading rumors that his client's opponent was a pedophile? Ah, the good old days. But what do we have here? Hillary Clinton comes out with guns blazing and accuses Barack Obama of ... not wanting to participate in enough debates. I'm outraged. I suppose the problem at the moment for Clinton is that the story she's been telling about Obama all along - that he doesn...

The Maverick Myth

You can't read a story about John McCain without seeing the word "maverick." But is it true?

From the archives: Robert Kuttner on how McCain failed to stand up to the Bush administration and Steve Benen on McCain's relationship with the media.

Now that John McCain is the all-but-certain Republican nominee for president, there is one thing we know for sure about how the general election will play out: The Democrat is going to be at a serious disadvantage in the media. This will be true even if that nominee is Barack Obama, who has gotten better coverage thus far than Hillary Clinton. Reporters find his candidacy a compelling story, but that attraction has its limitations. When it comes to John McCain, however, it's pure love. The issue of the media's affection for McCain is a complex one that I'll be exploring in detail over the coming months. But for the moment, let's take a look at perhaps the most prominent and repeated element of the mythology surrounding the Arizona senator. If you asked 100 reporters what one word they would use to describe John McCain, 99 would probably answer, "maverick." Indeed, they've become so used to attaching "maverick" to McCain that it has become almost a part of his name; "the maverick John...

A Question of Ideology

Where each of the Democratic candidates might leave the country ideologically could ultimately be the most lasting determinant of the success of the next presidency.

When Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had their recent squabble over Ronald Reagan—Obama noting that Reagan successfully altered the country's political trajectory, Clinton focusing attention on the disastrous effects of Reagan's policies—neither mentioned one of the most important pieces of Reagan's legacy: the impact he had on conservatism and liberalism as ideologies and movements. But the question of where each of these candidates might leave the country ideologically could ultimately be the most lasting determinant of the success of the next Democratic presidency. Unfortunately, neither Clinton nor Obama has addressed the question directly. But there are hints in both campaigns about where they might take their own followers, and where political activists on both sides will be eight years from now. This is in some ways a more important question than the "theory of change" argument that Clinton, Obama, and John Edwards had for many months. It isn't just about how you move...

The Colossus

Our economic dominance may be threatened by China, India, and the European Union, but when it comes to the instruments of war, nobody else is even close. And it will stay that way no matter who, Democrat or Republican, gets elected.

In 1947, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act, which in addition to creating the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency, consolidated the Army and Navy into a new department, first called the National Military Establishment and finally renamed as the Department of Defense (DoD) in 1949. The Department of War, which had been established in 1789, ceased to exist. As actual threats to American territory grew dimmer and dimmer, we eventually stopped thinking about what the word "defense" actually means -- or what a distant relationship the war-making machinery we constructed really bore to any sane notion of what "defending" our country would require. And what an awesome machinery it is. The neoconservatives may not have succeeded in their dream of creating a new hegemonic order to rival the glory days of Rome, but we've become so used to the idea of America as the world's sole superpower that we seldom step back and take in the true scope of our...

The Republican Democrat

Pick your tired metaphor -- take-no-prisoners, brass knuckles, no-holds-barred, playing for keeps -- however you describe it, the Clinton campaign is not only going after Obama, they're doing so in awfully familiar ways.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton in Las Vegas after Hillary Clinton was declared winner of the Nevada Democratic caucus. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
For the past few years, progressives have been saying that one of the most important things Democrats needed to do was to get tough. Republicans had been kicking sand in their faces too long, and the time had come to hit back just as hard. In my own contribution to this chorus, I started a chapter in my last book by quoting Sean Connery's character from The Untouchables : "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way." But now the candidate who should be as familiar as anyone with "the Chicago way" -- given that he's actually from Chicago -- is on the receiving end of some less than polite politics, and more than a few progressives don't like what they're seeing. Barack Obama and his advisors did a lot of careful planning for this campaign, but there's one thing it doesn't seem they prepared for: Their main opponent, Hillary Clinton, is running like a Republican. And it appears to be working. Three...