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

Whither the Conservative Culture War?

Last week's Values Voter Debate may have looked like an easy appeal to the base, but the absence of the Republican front runners casts doubt on whether the religious right's power is on the wane.

If you haven't already bookmarked Sarah Posner's terrific new feature here at The American Prospect Online , The FundamentaList , you might have missed it last week when the Republican candidates went deep into the heart of their base, coming before a group of conservative Christians for the Values Voter Debate. They were quizzed about abortion, homosexuality, pornography, and a host of other culture war issues by such old-line radical right luminaries as Phyllis Schlafly, Paul Weyrich, and Don Wildmon, and for sheer entertainment value, it beat any of the debates held on either side this year. Not only did the stage include four empty podiums for the candidates who by coincidence had scheduling conflicts that prevented them from attending, but the program included people asking the empty podiums questions, followed by moments of heavily symbolic silence. The reason you probably didn’t hear about the Values Voter Debate was the fact that those four missing candidates just happen to be...

DEEP FRIED TWINKIES AND A COW MADE OF BUTTER? THAT REMINDS ME OF SEPTEMBER 11.

DEEP FRIED TWINKIES AND A COW MADE OF BUTTER? THAT REMINDS ME OF SEPTEMBER 11. For a brief moment, it seemed that Rudy Giuliani was laying off the September 11 references just a bit, perhaps out of an awareness that if he lays it on too thick, people might start asking whether walking down a street pointing dramatically while being filmed, and giving a couple of good press conferences, really qualifies one to be leader of the free world. But fear not: it’s always September 12 in Rudyville, particularly when confronted by a potentially hostile conservative audience. Speaking before the NRA, Rudy explained why his history of criticizing the group as extremists and his lawsuit against gun manufacturers are just bygones that should be bygones. Although he wasn't specific about whether he now favors providing every man, woman and child with an AR-15 to mow down the terrorists who could soon be crawling through our streets, he did say that September 11 put "a whole different emphasis on the...

Voting for Strategy Over Policy

Voters can't -- and shouldn't -- judge who has the best health-care plan without hearing a persuasive case for why each candidate can overcome the political obstacles that stand in the way of meaningful reform.

On more than a few occasions in recent years, astute commentators (mostly in the blogosphere) have chastised Democratic politicians for talking strategy in public. To take just one example, instead of demonstrating their strength and principles in national security, the politicians say things like, "We've got to demonstrate our strength and principles in national security." The 2004 campaign showed the danger of integrating political strategy too much from the voter's end: John Kerry became the Democratic nominee in no small part because of the perception that he was "electable," a judgment that turned out to be based on faulty premises both about what makes a winning campaign and what Republicans would or would not stoop to (i.e. having their dynamic duo of draft-dodgers attack the military service of a war hero). So the lesson many reasonably learned is that candidates should talk about substance, not strategy; what they want to do, not how people will perceive what they want to do...

THE BATTLE IS JOINED.

THE BATTLE IS JOINED. For years, I've been arguing that what the left needs to do is wage all-out war not just on particular problems or Republican screw-ups, but on conservatism itself. As I wrote on this very web site way back in 2005: Unlike liberals, conservatives don't simply criticize specific candidates or pieces of legislation, they attack their opponents' entire ideological worldview. Tune into Rush Limbaugh or any of his imitators, and what you'll hear is little more than an extended discourse on the evils of liberalism, in which specific events are merely evidence that the real problem is liberal ideology. Liberals may write best-selling books about why George W. Bush is a terrible president, but conservatives write best-selling books about why liberalism is a pox on our nation (talk radio hate-monger Michael Savage , for instance, titled his latest book Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder ). Indeed, large portions of the conservative movement can be understood as an effort to...

"VERY PROUD OF THE PERSON HE BELIEVES HIMSELF TO BE."

"VERY PROUD OF THE PERSON HE BELIEVES HIMSELF TO BE." On the Daily Show on Wednesday, Jon Stewart interviewed Robert Draper , the author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush . In the course of the interview, Stewart gave what may be the most concise, insightful description of George W. Bush , the man, that has been offered in the last eight years: "After reading this book, I get the sense of a man who is very proud of the person he believes himself to be, but he is in fact the opposite of that person." Hard to say it better than that. As I was watching the president last night, I couldn't help but ask myself: what, as a writer, am I going to do when he's gone? Between a book, a couple of hundred columns, and innumerable blog posts, I'd estimate that I've written somewhere between a quarter million and a half million words about him over the last five years. When his presidency started, I was a graduate student intending to spend my days as an academic, penning articles on...

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