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

Has Trump Overestimated the Cruelty of His Own Supporters?

When it comes to public policy, Donald Trump doesn't believe in very much. He has little in the way of strong feelings about abortion or guns or health care, for instance, though he understands that staying consistent with Republican orthodoxy is politically important for him. But there are a few issues he cares deeply about, and has since before he became a politician. Trade is one of them; he thinks that whenever an American buys something made in another country, the country has been made to look the fool and the world is laughing at us . The other major issue on which Trump has firm beliefs is immigration, and now we are truly seeing those beliefs put into practice, and the result is one of the more intense controversies of this presidency. After a lengthy internal argument in which the utility and morality of separating children from their parents when they try to cross the border was debated by Trump administration officials, the hardliners won out. Now, instead of putting...

Trump Unchained

(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
"You are a king," Donald Trump's father reportedly told him . And the thing about being a king is that nobody gets to tell you what to do. It's becoming clear that few parts of the president's character are as important as how harshly he reacts to any attempt to constrain him. He grew up in wealth, and without any sense of obligation to anyone. As the head of a private company, he had no board of directors overseeing him and no one to answer to. And today, the very idea that someone might try to push him in one direction or another—let alone force him to do something like testify before a grand jury or reveal his tax returns—seems to fill him with rage. Seldom has a leader mattered more as an individual, divorced from institutional imperatives, party commitments, international alliances, traditional norms, and historical forces. Indeed, that was part of the appeal Trump made to voters, and the thing that made many in his party suspicious of him. He'd be unpredictable,...

Inevitably, Trump Declares He Is Above the Law

(Chip Somodevilla/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)
On July 27, 1974, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon, saying that he had "prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice." Nixon resigned before the full House could vote on his impeachment. Twenty-five years later, after an investigation that had begun more than five years before, the United States Senate voted on articles of impeachment for President Bill Clinton, which used the same language, that he had "prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice." Of the 55 Republicans then in the Senate, 50 voted to convict Clinton on this charge; among them were ten who are still in office today. Six Republicans who were then in the House and voted for impeachment are now in the Senate. Also voting for impeachment on the charges including obstruction was then-Senator Jeff Sessions, who is now attorney general. I remind you of this history because over the weekend, The New York Times published a letter from...

The Moral Compromise Republicans Made to Support Trump in 2016? It's Only Getting Worse

If you're a Republican, the last two years have asked a lot of you. First you were given an extraordinarily difficult choice: Support Donald Trump, or turn your back on your party. And now, Trump himself is demanding something even more distasteful. If you support him, you must not merely hold your nose and say "The alternative is worse." You must accept an increasingly rancid collection of ideas, ones that require you not only to abandon any commitment at all to honesty but to cast aside much of your dwindling stock of moral values. Let's remind ourselves of the bargain so many Republicans made back in 2016. While Trump's avid supporters made up at least a plurality of the party during the primaries, once he became the nominee, many analysts thought that he'd be unable to bring the rest of the party to him and command the kind of loyalty that had come to mark our polarized age. With some high-profile figures like Bill Kristol mounting the "Never Trump" barricades, it seemed as though...

Forget the Deep State -- This Is the Trump State

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Periodically over the last year and a half we've had cause to ask ourselves, "Is this it? Is this the moment we've been dreading and warning about? When Donald Trump truly becomes the kind of president he keeps telling us he wants to be?" Sometimes it's hard to tell. It's as if we're all standing in a river of corruption rushing around us with impossible speed and force, and every once in a while another wave smashes us in the face. Was that wave the real problem, or is it the whole river? The answer is: It's both. The "Deep State" may be a myth, but we've seen the installation of the Trump State, which is something far worse. Here's what Trump tweeted on Sunday: I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May...