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

What Elizabeth Warren Is In For

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From the moment he began running for president in 2015, it was apparent that Donald Trump was a kind of political idiot savant, even if the idiot part blinded so many people to the savant part. He seemed to know nothing about anything, yet he had an intuitive sense of what would get certain voters angry and excited. And he was nearly alone in believing there was almost nothing he couldn't get away with; his off-the-cuff assertion that "I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK? It's like incredible" will stand as one of the most profound insights of the entire Trump era. Trump could also take the preferred tactic of the fourth-grade bully—mocking nicknames for those he seeks to dominate—and turn it into a potent political weapon. Liddle Marco, Lyin' Ted, Crooked Hillary—in every case, Trump found a point of weakness, then jabbed at it with the bluntest instrument he could find, which turned out to be an...

Is the GOP Careening Toward Disaster in November?

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
Sometimes I try to imagine what we'd be going through right now if a few thousand votes had gone a different way in 2016 and Hillary Clinton had won the electoral college in addition to the popular vote. There would have no doubt been a conservative uprising along the lines of the Tea Party, presented as a principled opposition to big government but really little more than a collective loathing for President Clinton. Not that she would have been turning the nation into a socialist hellhole, since with Republicans still in control of Congress there would only have been so much she could accomplish. We probably would have had at least one or two government shutdowns by now, and Republicans would be demanding deep cuts to federal spending, lest we subject our grandchildren to the horrors of a budget deficit. And we'd all be debating just how big the anti-Clinton wave would be in 2018, and whether it would give Republicans the 60-vote margin they'd need in the Senate to overcome any...

Is the NRA Finally on the Defensive?

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Speaking to the activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference last week, President Trump interrupted his freeform stream of consciousness performance to take a quick poll of the audience. "If you only had a choice of one, what would you rather have?" he asked them. "The Second Amendment or the tax cuts?" When he had them applaud for each, the cheers for gun rights were far louder. That wouldn't be the case if you could read the minds of the Republican Party's representatives in Congress, for whom tax cuts are always the highest priority. Yet over the last few years, the GOP has become not just a pro-gun party but a party utterly in thrall to the National Rifle Association and its increasingly extreme views. Some Republicans in Congress fight every suggestion of regulating guns because it's what they really believe, while others do it because they fear the NRA's wrath. But now some glimmers of change may actually be appearing. The NRA is on the defensive, and people are...

What the Parkland Students Wanted the World to See—But the Media Didn't

(Twitter: @Melody_Ball)
The school shooting last week in Parkland, Florida, was unlike other mass shootings in one remarkable way: Many of the students disseminated images of the event on social media as it was still unfolding. That included some videos in which the bodies of victims could be seen, which confronted the news media with a problem they have been grappling with for as long as photographs have been reproduced in the news. Should they show dead bodies? Is it necessary information, or is it too upsetting for audiences to see? Does it enhance or detract from the story? What principles should guide those decisions? Jessica Fishman, a behavioral and social scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, explores these issues in her new book, Death Makes the News: How News Media Censor and Display the Dead , for which she analyzed large volumes of news coverage, and also interviewed photojournalists and editors about why they make the choices they do. I spoke to her about Parkland and the way death is...

Conservatism Unleashed

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In the Netflix science fiction series Altered Carbon , a major plot line involves a ship, hovering thousands of feet above the ground, where the super-rich go to fulfill their most sordid fantasies, involving not just kinky sex but the murder of attractive young women (and the occasional man), the ultimate privilege for a member of the overclass. It's a trope you've probably seen in a dozen films: When a group of people utterly removed from any kind of societal accountability gather to grant license to their desires, those desires turn out to be utterly depraved. Something analagous is happening right now in American politics. The Republican Party, particularly its members in the Trump administration, are engaged in an ideological bacchanal that goes beyond what we imagined would occur when Donald Trump became president. We knew what a disaster he would be as an individual; his ignorant, insecure, petty, vindictive, authoritarian personality was amply clear to anyone who had paid even...