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

Michael Cohen Could Be the Instrument of Trump's Doom

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Let me suggest an image from the near future and see what your reaction is. It's a few months from now, and Michael Cohen is being led into a police station in Manhattan in handcuffs, his jacket slightly askew, his face wearing an expression that's two-thirds defiance, one-third fear. In fact, you might have pictured that already yourself. If you look at Cohen on the news and say, "Oh yeah, that guy's definitely going to jail for something," you are not alone. While Cohen is usually described as "Donald Trump's personal lawyer," in fact he was much more: a deal-maker, a problem-solver, and the guy Trump would turn to if he wanted to threaten somebody. "If somebody does something Mr. Trump doesn't like, I do everything in my power to resolve it to Mr. Trump's benefit," Cohen once told ABC News . "If you do something wrong, I'm going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I'm not going to let you go until I'm finished." If there are shady things going on in the Trump organization,...

What Should We Do About Syria? Don't Ask Trump.

(Photo by Cheriss May/Sipa USA via AP Images)
I wonder if, after some of his national security aides brief him about the latest developments in Syria, President Trump shakes his head and says, "Boy, nobody knew wars in the Middle East could be so complicated." That, you'll recall, is what he said about health care, when in fact everyone, except for him, knew how complicated it is. But perhaps I'm being unfair. There are reasons to think that Trump already had a sense of how complicated the Middle East can be, which is why as a candidate he expressed much more of a distaste for military adventurism there than your average Republican. Just last week, Trump declared his intention to bring all of our troops home from Syria, where they have been working to eradicate ISIS. "I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home," he said . But then came an apparent chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma, in which dozens of civilians were killed. Trump took to his favorite medium to express his outrage. "Many dead,...

Voters' Belief in Fairness Will Toss Republicans from Office

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images) House Speaker Paul Ryan leaves the podium after a press conference on March 14, 2018. In a well-known experiment involving capuchin monkeys, researchers set up a scenario in which some of the moneys were treated unfairly—getting mundane cucumber slices as a reward while another monkey received a delicious grape—and found that the unfairness caused a rebellion. "Monkeys refused to participate if they witnessed [another monkey] obtain a more attractive reward for equal effort," they wrote, "an effect amplified if the partner received such a reward without any effort at all." Which is why Republicans are going to lose the 2018 midterm elections. Well, that's not the only reason. But the thing that Republicans hoped would save them from a shattering defeat this November—their tax cut bill—is not going to have anything like the effect they hoped it would have in mitigating the losses they are likely to suffer. That's...

Students Have Transformed the American Gun Debate

(Sipa via AP Images)
Every social movement in history has been greeted by "concern trolls," long before that term was invented. You're doing it wrong, activists are inevitably told. You're asking for too much too quickly, or your message should be more specific. You don't understand the issue deeply enough, or you're getting lost in the weeds. You've got the wrong spokespeople. You're being rude. Your tactics are alienating those you're trying to persuade. This is never going to work. It's possible for the criticism to be perfectly valid; some movements are indeed more skilled than others, and you can certainly do it wrong. But every movement hears these criticisms, including the new gun reform movement that is doing such extraordinary things right now, most visibly the spectacular March For Our Lives that took place on Saturday, led by a group of teenagers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, joined by young people from all over the country. What have they accomplished? In...

Mueller's Firing Is Getting Closer Every Day

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
Is President Trump going to fire Robert Mueller? This question is gripping Washington more with each passing day, and the truth is that none of us know the answer, if only because the future is always uncertain. But here's what we do know: We know that Trump madly, fervently, desperately wants to. We know that he's being held back not by his own sense of propriety or restraint (ha!) but by aides who understand that, as Senator Lindsey Graham said , "if he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency." But Trump probably doesn't understand that. He continues to insist that the entire investigation is illegitimate, making clear that he believes he would be perfectly justified in ordering Mueller's firing: The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of...