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

PROPS TO THE P.O.

PROPS TO THE P.O. As you may have heard, the post office has raised the rate for sending a first-class letter to 41 cents. This might be an opportune time to spend a moment thinking about our mail service. For a lot of people, the post office is the symbol of inefficient government bureaucracy, the butt of jokes and scorn. When conservatives were fighting the Clinton health care plan in 1993, they used to say it would "combine the efficiency of the post office with the compassion of the IRS." Har, har! But let's step back and consider the service the post office actually performs. Let's say you live in New York, and you want to send a note to your Aunt Millie in California. You can take your letter and drop it in a box on the corner -- or if that's not quite convenient enough for you, you can just leave it jutting out of your door. The post office will pick it up there at your house, transport it 3,000 miles, and personally hand it to Aunt Millie, all within the space of a few days...

RUDY 2.0.

RUDY 2.0. Following on Scott 's post on Rudy Giuliani 's bold coming out as pro-choice, part of what this reveals is just how amateurish an effort the Giuliani campaign has been so far. Abortion was the key stumbling block to his getting the nomination, and to hear him talk about it over the last couple of weeks, including in the debate, one would have thought he hadn't really given much thought to what he would say when he got asked about it. Hearing him say "I hate abortion" over and over reminded me of John Kerry talking about how he'd "kill the terrorists" -- something that somebody thought was a good way to convey the right image, but felt really uncomfortable. And now, after a few embarrassing weeks trying to thread an impossibly tiny needle, the Giuliani campaign seems to have said, "Well, that didn't work. What's plan B?" And plan B, apparently, is an effort to put his pro-choice views right there on the table, and hope nobody bothers to talk about it anymore. I wonder what...

ABORTION AND TEEN MOTHERHOOD.

ABORTION AND TEEN MOTHERHOOD. Scott 's post below on parental notification laws brings up something that never seems to get said with regard to this issue. We all know that anti-abortion forces want to throw every roadblock and hurdle possible in front of a woman or girl seeking to have an abortion. When they talk about parental notification, they talk about the rights of parents. When progressives talk about why parental notification is bad, we tend to focus on the extreme cases -- a girl is being abused, she was raped by her father, etc. These cases are a good enough reason in and of themselves to oppose parental notification laws, but there's something else that�s said less often than it�s believed, if not by all pro-choice people, then certainly some: If a teenage girl is pregnant she ought to have an abortion . It�s really as simple as that. Teenage pregnancy is bad, and teenage motherhood is bad, too. Having a child when you�re 16 or 15 or 14 may ruin your life, but even if it...

THE DOWD MANIFESTO.

THE DOWD MANIFESTO. John Edwards , you're on notice: Maureen Dowd has proclaimed her intention to do everything in her power to destroy your candidacy. No one should be surprised that Dowd would be all over the story of Edwards's $400 haircuts. After all, she is the least substantive of columnists, the most eager to grab on to some sartorial or personal grooming tidbit about a candidate and present it as not just a symbol of some larger deficiency of character, but as the very essence of the man or woman in question, the reason we should all sneer at the candidate in disgust. And there's nothing Dowd loves more than calling politicians sissies. So this was how her Saturday column (available here to snooty elitist Times Select subscribers) began: Whether or not the country is ready to elect a woman president or a black president, it's definitely not ready for a metrosexual in chief. So Dowd will make it her personal mission to ensure that everyone within reach of her keyboard will be...

Blowing Off the War

You might have had this experience at one time or another: Armed with an opinion you may not have thought much about, you find yourself arguing with someone who disagrees with you on a topic of current events. As the debate proceeds, you begin to understand that you're actually wrong. The arguments you make to support your position grow thinner and less germane, shot down easily by your adversary, to the point where you know you've lost. You look anxiously around at those who are listening, wondering if their opinion of you will be forever diminished. What to do? Surrender, and lose face by admitting you don't really know what you're talking about? Soldier on, and risk looking more and more foolish? Neither option is particularly appealing. And what if the topic in question is one on which you have practically staked you entire career -- one whose outcome threatens not only the health of your political party but your entire ideological worldview? What would you do then? As it happens...

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