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

The Personal Presidency

(Shawn Thew/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)
(Shawn Thew/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images) Trump walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn ofthe White House on October 7, 2017. P olitical scientists will tell you that we spend too much time worrying about personality in politics. All those stories in every presidential campaign —about the advice one candidate's grandpappy gave him down at the fishin' hole or what the other candidate's taste in music says about her—they're mostly irrelevant. What matters much more, not just for how elections turn out but for what happens between them, is larger, broader forces and institutions: the state of the economy, durable electoral and policy coalitions, the nature of partisanship, and so on. The personal stuff might be interesting, but its effects are only seen at the margins. In some ways, those buzzkilling political scientists doing their best to render politics dry and uninteresting are unquestionably correct. Impersonal forces have enormous effects, and the further back you set your...

Is There Any Problem Tax Cuts for the Wealthy Can't Solve?

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy speak following a closed-door GOP strategy session at the Republican National Committee Headquarters on Capitol Hill on September 26, 2017. C hris Rock had a routine in which he described how when he was a kid, the only health care his father offered for any ailment was Robitussin. Asthma? Robitussin. Cancer? Robitussin. "I broke my leg, Daddy poured Robitussin on it." Tax cuts are the Republican Party's Robitussin. Whatever you think ails the country's economy, if not its very spirit, tax cuts will fix it. Slow GDP growth? Tax cuts. Slow wage growth? Tax cuts. Long-term productivity declines? Tax cuts. Inequality? Tax cuts. And of course by "tax cuts," we mean tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. What's remarkable about this isn't only that it's justified with a shameless combination of magical thinking and outright lies (more on that in a moment). Most striking of all is the utter lack of...

Donald Trump, President of the Culture War

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Air Force One at Morristown Municipal airport in Morristown, New Jersey. I n a world and a country beset by complex problems—to name just one, millions of Americans in Puerto Rico have essentially been blown back to the 19th century by a storm—the man with the nation's most challenging job spent the weekend complaining about the NFL. There are many explanations for what's going on in Donald Trump's head—one of my favorites is that it's about personal resentment, since after he lost a bid to buy the Buffalo Bills a few years ago, he has been intensely critical of the league for growing "soft" and caring too much about the safety of its players. But at bottom, this is a political and not just a personal project. Donald Trump is enacting a presidency devoted to the culture war, more so than any president in recent history. It's always questionable to assume that Trump is undertaking anything like an...

Democrats' Unsolvable Media Problem

AP Photo/Richard Drew
AP Photo/Richard Drew Fox News host Sean Hannity interviews Donald Trump, Jr. A s we learn more about how Russia used social media as part of its campaign to help elect Donald Trump, what stands out is how easy it was. Spend $100,000 on Facebook ads , create a bunch of Twitter bots , and before you know it you've whipped up a fog of disinformation that gives Trump just the boost he needs to get over the finish line. Even if it's almost impossible to quantify how many votes it might have swayed, it was one of the many factors contributing to the atmosphere of chaos and confusion that helped Trump get elected. As new as it might seem, this is just the latest manifestation of a broader problem that goes back a long way, one of the degradation of truth, a conservative electorate taught to disbelieve what's real and accept whatever lunatic things their media figures tell them, and liberals who can't figure out how to respond. In the latter, I don't exempt myself. I've been thinking...

Why the Elite Media Want You to Think Trump Is an Independent

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci President Donald Trump walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House. O n Sundays, newspapers publish think pieces in which reporters step back from the week's news to offer a broader perspective, allowing readers to learn not just what happened but What It All Means. And often, since those reporters are similar people with similar sources observing events from similar places and spending a good deal of time in each other's company, they arrive at similar conclusions. So it was that this past weekend, The New York Times , The Washington Post , and the Associated Press all responded to Trump siding with Democrats over a relatively minor procedural matter—whether to increase the debt ceiling for a three-month period, as they wanted, or an 18-month period, as Republicans were pushing for, as part of an agreement that included aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey and a bill to keep the government functioning—in nearly the same way. Trump was showing...