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

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

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
On 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 that he's a true independent, unmoored from party loyalty. The AP proclaimed the arrival of "the...

Donald Trump, Weakling

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Bill Clinton, who had an exquisitely tuned radar for how ordinary people's prejudices influence their political choices, used to say that the public would always prefer a politician who was "strong and wrong" to one who was "weak and right." I couldn't help but think of that when I saw Ted Cruz defend President Trump's chest-thumping bluster on North Korea by saying that while he wouldn't speak the way the president does, "I do think it helps for North Korea and for China to understand that we have a president who is strong. That is beneficial." Yeah, that seems to be working out great. I don't mean to pick on Senator Cruz—it can't be easy to have to defend Trump on anything, especially when you loathe him as much as Cruz surely does (you'll recall that during the 2016 campaign, Trump insulted Cruz's wife's looks and suggested that his father might have killed JFK). But at this point, it's hard to believe that North Korea or China actually thinks that Donald Trump is "strong."...

The Worst People

AP Photo/Angie Wang
"I'm going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people," Donald Trump said when he was a candidate for president. Top-notch, grade A, cream of the crop, platinum-quality people, people so terrific they're the human equivalent of marble floors and gold-leaf wallpaper. Yet even then, there were subtle hints that perhaps Trump was not in fact going to surround himself with the best people. Maybe it was the enthusiastic support he got from the likes of convicted rapist Mike Tyson , or jerktastic basketball coach Bobby Knight , or NFL bully Richie Incognito . Maybe it was all those spittle-flecked dudes in "Trump that bitch" T-shirts at his rallies. Maybe it was the Nazis and Klansmen who kept expressing their enthusiasm about his candidacy. ("The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in," said one Imperial Wizard of the KKK.) Put it all together and you may have gotten the idea that something other than the...

In Trump Country, Trump Supporters Support Trump

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)
T his weekend, The New York Times published the latest in its endless series of articles in which the paper checks in with ardent Donald Trump supporters to reveal the fascinating discovery that they still support Donald Trump. What follows is a dispatch from two years in the future. SCRACKNECK, KENTUCKY, AUGUST 21, 2019 — Doris Kerflupf has heard all the arguments, from neighbors, friends and relatives. "He started a nuclear war." "He brought on a global apocalypse." "His decisions led to the breakdown of human society." "He tweeted that shockingly inappropriate thing about Malala." But Kerflupf, a 67-year-old retiree now making it on her own after her husband George was carried away by one of the packs of feral children that roam the streets of this former mining down, won't hear any criticism of the commander-in-chief. "I voted for him and I'm still glad I did," she says. "He gets us." As Donald Trump's approval ratings descend to single digits in the wake of the series of...

The 'Many Sides' of Trump's Moral Rot

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Like all politicians, presidents spend a good deal of their time talking. Most of what they say is barely worth remembering—banal interviews, comments before or after a meeting, inconsequential press conferences, welcoming remarks to a foreign delegation or champion sports team—but on rare occasions, the country looks to the president for rhetoric that unifies and uplifts the nation, creating shared meaning out of critical events, particularly tragic ones. At those moments, words matter and the president's character can reveal itself. And boy, did Donald Trump's character ever reveal itself this past weekend. As we stand back in wonder at just what a repugnant human being now sits in the Oval Office, we need to keep reminding ourselves that his sins (of both omission and commission) are not his alone. Many Republicans have stepped up to disagree with him about whether neo-Nazis and white supremacists are actually worthy of condemnation, which we should acknowledge. Yet...