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 Federal Prohibition on Marijuana Is On Borrowed Time

AP Photo/Josh Edelson
If you're a politician wondering whether you should try pot, I've got news for you: Everybody's doing it. Why not give it a try? You don't want people to think you're square, do you? By "try pot," I don't mean actually smoke it (though who knows what's going on in the cloakroom these days). I mean come out for some form of marijuana legalization. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner recently joined the board of a cannabis company, and last week on semi-official marijuana holiday April 20, certified cool dude Chuck Schumer, the leader of Democrats in the Senate, announced that he will soon be introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. Oh how times have changed. They're hardly the only ones. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, being pushed to the left by a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, now says the state should start preparing to legalize it. Major corporations like HP are inching their way toward involvement in some corner of what is already a...

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...