Paul Waldman

Why Clinton Doesn't Need a "Mandate"

(Photo: AP/Mary Altaffer)
(Photo: AP/Mary Altaffer) Hillary Clinton greets supporters at a campaign event in Charlotte, North Carolina, on October 23, 2016. H illary Clinton is going to be the next president of the United States—there, I said it. Yes, it's possible that in the next two weeks some story so shocking, appalling and horrifying could come out about her that it would throw the election to Donald Trump. But given her clear lead in the polls and her vastly superior ground operation, it would have to be a truly monumental scandal, of the kind Republicans are always dreaming about but can never deliver no matter hard they try. Unless she turns out to maintain a dungeon in Chappaqua where she conducts gruesome medical experiments on kidnapped runaways, this race is unlikely to move enough to keep her from the White House. But if and when she does win, you can count on Republicans to insist that she has no "mandate" to enact her agenda. Instead, they'll insist, not only should she put aside the policy...

Donald Trump's Surreal Alternate Reality

(Photo: AP/Julio Cortez)
(Photo: AP/Julio Cortez) Donald Trump speaks during a charity event hosted by the Republican Hindu Coalition on October 15 in Edison, New Jersey. I f you've been around politics and campaigns for even a little while, you probably have a pretty clear sense of what happens behind closed doors with Hillary Clinton and her close advisers. They plan which battleground states she'll visit in the few remaining weeks, go over polling data to see where she's strong and where she's weak, consider how to react to each day's developments in the news, practice for the final debate on Wednesday, talk about the key messages she should emphasize—those kind of things. There's not much mystery there. But when you consider Donald Trump's campaign, one question dominates all others: What the hell are they thinking? If we're lucky, when the 2016 presidential campaign is over someone within the Trump campaign will pen a tell-all memoir to show the rest of us what this most bizarre presidential candidacy...

If the 2016 Campaign Were a Satirical Novel

(Photo: AP/Robert F. Bukaty)
(Photo: AP/Robert F. Bukaty) Donald Trump speaks in Sandown, New Hampshire, on October 6, 2016. " Call me Donald" might be the opening line if the 2016 presidential campaign were a novel. Or perhaps, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times—no, actually it was just the worst of times." Either way, that's what this campaign has most come to resemble: a sprawling, outrageous, seriocomic novel aiming its satirical blade a the heart of contemporary American politics and society, focused on a protagonist occupying a space somewhere between antihero and outright villain. Think about what the plot of this campaign has involved. The protagonist made a dramatic entrance, shocking and enthralling observers with his immediate and unadorned demagoguery, and his bizarre brand of charisma that captivated the media. Then he vanquished a passel of primary opponents, who tried and failed to fight him in the gutter where he dwelt so comfortably. All the while his supporters growled like an...