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 Shutdown Will End, But the Divisions Will Remain

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
As I write this column, the federal government is shut down, which may or may not still be the case by the time you read it. If we set aside the trivial question of which party will get political advantage from this ugly confrontation, there are actually some important issues that will remain even after the dispute is resolved and government services are restored. This budget fight has exacerbated the divisions between the two parties on immigration, one of the most profound and emotionally fraught issues we have to deal with. And if the agreement that ends the crisis doesn't resolve some of the core questions, those divisions may only get worse. That's true even though there's an obvious resolution to the crisis. Democrats would grit their teeth and swallow a large amount of funding for Donald Trump's asinine border wall, and in exchange the Dreamers given temporary legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) would be allowed to stay in the US. It's a...

The Russia Scandal Is Looking More Like Watergate All the Time

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
It was a rather eventful week for President Trump, one that began with the nation debating whether he's mentally unstable and ended with the nation debating whether he's a racist. No reasonable person believes anymore the oft-stated hypothesis that whatever appalling thing he said today is merely a clever misdirection to distract you from some much more serious appalling thing he's up to. It all happens simultaneously, with no plan or strategy driving it forward apart from stupidity, boundless bad faith, and the occasional dollop of panic. And underneath it all is the Russia scandal, like a backbeat to the manic tune being played every day in Washington. While we are often too quick to look for historical analogies, Russia is looking more like Watergate all the time. Unlike our other recent mega-scandals (Lewinsky, Iran-Contra), both Watergate and Russia have their roots in elections, where the president's campaign stepped far outside the bounds of ethical or (perhaps) legal behavior...

A Third-Class Intellect, But a Fourth-Class Temperament

(Rex Features via AP Images)
After the 2017 we had, it seems completely appropriate that as 2018 begins, we're arguing about whether Donald Trump is an idiot or a genius. Or perhaps "arguing" is the wrong word. It isn't like there's some kind of grand debate afoot, in which the two parties articulate opposing views, marshall evidence, and work to convince the public that their side is correct. You'd have a hard time finding a Republican not in Trump's direct employ who would say with a straight face that the president is an intelligent man, and with the release of Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House , in which Wolff describes how the White House staff has to work to accommodate the fact that their boss is a simpleton, the president's insecurities have come bursting out yet again. Nobody's going to call him stupid without him hitting back! And so he has, announcing on Twitter that "Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really...

President Trump Is Wrong: The Postal Service Is an American Treasure

(Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)
Last Friday, the president took a shot at the U.S. Postal Service over Twitter, alleging that they aren't charging Amazon enough to mail packages, "making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer." In response, I took the opportunity to go on a little Twitter rant of my own , in which I sought to dispel some of the myths about the Postal Service. I figured it would get a few retweets and likes, and that would be that. What happened instead was an overwhelming response from tens of thousands of people, sharing my comments and their affection for the Postal Service as customers, employees, and the loved ones of both. That response convinced me that there's more to say about this topic and what it says about America. To begin, let me explain why the U.S. Postal Service, target of so many derisive portrayals in popular culture, is actually a marvel. There are many parts of modern life that are so routine that we take them for granted and never contemplate how much planning,...

Why the Republicans' Tax Cut Won't Save Them from Political Disaster

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Donald Trump lies so often that when he tells unadorned truths it can be a shock. But sometimes it happens when he forgets to spin, as it was when he was speaking to a group of wealthy friends at a dinner at Mar-a-Lago last Friday. "You all just got a lot richer," he told to the well-heeled diners, referring to the tax cuts he had just signed. And they certainly did, despite the endless assurances that the bill was really aimed at the struggling middle class. That's particularly true if Trump's guests own lots of stock, because the bill's centerpiece, the cut in the corporate tax rate, will in all likelihood be mostly passed on to shareholders, in the form of dividends and share price-boosting efforts like stock buybacks. Republicans in Washington, however, are holding out hope that before long, the American middle class will understand how the tax bill has transformed their lives, then reward the GOP accordingly. Once the inevitable tide of prosperity washes across the land, voters...