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

The Business Platform

Contrary to current hype, business acumen and political acumen are two very different skill sets.

Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate for California governor, speaks in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
"U.S. businessmen," lamented Time magazine in August 1956, "whether Democrats or Republicans, have a deep-seated aversion to political activity." These days, however, every election brings a new spate of CEO candidates, arguing that their know-how in the ways of commerce makes them far better suited for government service than people who actually have some experience at government service. This year is no different. In last week's primaries, Republicans nominated two corporate titans -- Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, and Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard -- as their candidates for governor and senator, respectively, from California. They join Linda McMahon, former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, who is the GOP nominee for Senate in Connecticut. Their candidacies rest on two things: the copious amounts of cash each are willing to spend (Whitman has already dropped a remarkable $71 million of her own money into her campaign, before the general election has...

Palin Strangely Unpopular Among Iowa Republicans.

You thought it was too early for the 2012 presidential campaign to start? Worry not -- the Des Moines Register has a poll of the state's Republicans, testing their feelings about potential GOP nominees. They tell us that "62 percent of Republicans who identified themselves as likely to vote in this week's primary election are very or mostly favorable toward [ Mitt] Romney . [ Sarah] Palin follows, with 58 percent very or mostly favorable about her, with [ Newt] Gingrich at 56 percent." Nothing too alarming there -- before the campaign begins, it's mostly about name recognition. However, the story doesn't comment on the unfavorable numbers. Who wins there? Hands down, it's Palin: 39 percent of Iowa Republicans have an unfavorable view of her. This is somewhat surprising given that Iowa Republicans are a socially conservative bunch, and you'd think they'd be Palin's base. Two years ago they gave Rev. Mike Huckabee the win over Romney and the rest. Pat Robertson -- to whom God regularly...

The Case for Mocking Al Qaeda.

Over at the Atlantic, Daniel Byman and Christine Fair explain that today's brand of terrorist may be even dumber than we realized: Nowhere is the gap between sinister stereotype and ridiculous reality more apparent than in Afghanistan, where it's fair to say that the Taliban employ the world's worst suicide bombers: one in two manages to kill only himself. ... [I]n many cultures, a manly embrace is a time-honored tradition for warriors before they go off to face death. Thus, many suicide bombers never even make it out of their training camp or safe house, as the pressure from these group hugs triggers the explosives in suicide vests. According to several sources at the United Nations, as many as six would-be suicide bombers died last July after one such embrace in Paktika. This is an argument I've made before: Terrorists who hate America can be very dangerous, and they can kill people. But they're not super-villains who can bust their colleagues out of supermax prisons or bring about...

More On Caring Less

Yesterday, I weighed in on a mini-debate about the way people say "I could care less" when what they actually mean is "I couldn't care less." I even suggested that if you encounter someone using this phrase, you should politely explain to him that he's an idiot. This no doubt struck some people as unnecessarily judgmental. Well, today Think Progress gives us some news : Last week, South Carolina state Sen. Jake Knotts (R) came under fire for calling President Obama and Nikki Haley , his party’s nominee for governor, "a raghead." The South Carolina Republican party condemned Knotts’ comments immediately after he made them last Thursday. And last night, the Republican Party of Lexington County — where both Knotts and Haley live — voted to officially censure him... In response to the censure, Knotts said he "could care less" and would not resign. I rest my case. -- Paul Waldman

Why the Recession Isn't As Painful in Massachusetts

As you may recall, Massachusetts has a health care system (courtesy of Mitt Romney !) that's a lot like the one Congress passed a few months ago. Today, Ezra Klein points us to a study showing how the recession has been less painful there than in other places. Even though unemployment in Massachusetts has more than doubled, the number of people without insurance didn't go up at all. In other words, people who lost their jobs didn't have to worry that they'd be faced with the anxiety that comes with losing your insurance - not to mention the potential of crushing medical bills - on top of the misfortune they'd already suffered. There are weaknesses in the Massachusetts system, just as there are weaknesses in the system that will be in place nationally come 2014, when it is phased in. But we will eventually get used to the idea that leaving or losing your job doesn't also mean losing your health coverage. After a while, we'll wonder how we could ever have tolerated a system in which it...