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

At Last, Trump Finds His Mini-Me

(Ron Sachs/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)
Perhaps never in American history has a lowly White House aide been so roundly and gleefully mocked in such short a time as Sean Spicer, President Trump's soon-to-be-former press secretary. Spicer's departure and the arrival of the new communication director, Anthony Scaramucci, show that this White House has really found its groove. Not in passing legislation (which hasn't happened yet) or in convincing Americans that the president is doing a bang-up job (his approval ratings are in the 30s), but in making Donald Trump's staff more fully Trumpian. Ordinarily, the position of White House communication director is filled by someone with at least a decade of experience in press relations—after all, it's pretty much the most prestigious and challenging job in that field. Scaramucci, however, was picked using the method the president has used to fill many of the openings in his administration: He saw him on Fox News. Scaramucci's many TV appearances defending the president convinced...

Trump's Always Been a Con Artist. But Now He's the Sucker.

AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Some of us spent a good part of 2016 arguing that Donald Trump was a con man. He had spent much of his career pulling grifts on unsuspecting victims, whether it was the enrollees at Trump University, customers of the multivitamin pyramid scheme called the " Trump Network " (bet you forgot about that one), or small businesspeople from whom he bought goods and services and then stiffed on the bill . Now he was pulling his biggest con of all on the voters, and too many of them were getting fooled. But guess what: Now Donald Trump is the mark. He's the one being manipulated. He turns out to be the biggest sucker in town. The thing about a con man is that in order to be successful, he has to have some understanding of human nature—what motivates people, where their vulnerabilities are, and how they can be manipulated. Which is what makes Trump's success as a grifter somewhat unusual—he possesses little apparent human empathy, yet he made huge amounts of money taking advantage...

How Trump Is Dragging America's Image Down

(Photo: Kay Nietfeld/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)
While the G20 summit in Germany didn't feature the leaders laying their hands on a glowing orb , it did offer a vivid illustration of just how far the United States has fallen in the mere six months that Donald Trump has been president. He has broken many of the promises he made as a candidate, but he has certainly come through on his pledge to make American foreign policy more inward-looking and contemptuous of the interests of the rest of the world. We're just beginning to see the results. To put it simply, the very idea of "American leadership" in the world is on indefinite hold for as long as Trump remains president. We still have the largest economy, strongest military, and most influential culture, but other countries know they can no longer look to America as a partner or a leader in any common endeavor. Trump has made it clear that he has no interest in any initiative that doesn't provide him and the U.S. benefits at the expense of other countries and peoples. It's not just "...

The Coming Democratic Infighting Over Single-Payer Health Care

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Beware Democrats: There's a new litmus test on the way that you'll have to satisfy if you want to avoid being branded an establishment sellout. It concerns single-payer health care, and while this one can get silly in some quarters, there are serious questions that everyone on the left, from the most moderate Democrat to the most committed leftist, will have to answer. With the Republicans proving that a health plan embodying conservative principles can garner the support of as much as 16 percent of the American public, there has never been a better time for liberals to make the case for an expansion of government's role in health care. No long ago, single-payer was either something supported by fringe figures, or an idea that Democrats would say they would favor if we were starting from scratch, but that the transition from where the system is now to a single-payer system would be too difficult (that was Barack Obama's position ). But that's not true anymore. Elizabeth Warren, for...

Republicans Resort to the Same Strategy They Always Use on Health Care: Lying

Cheriss May/Sipa via AP Images
At some point in the last few days, key Republicans in the White House and Congress got together to figure out what their message would be on the health-care bill the Senate may pass this week. Perhaps the conversation happened in person, or on a conference call or over email—I don't know, but given the perfect harmony in which they were singing on the Sunday shows, there's no doubt it took place. And at the end of that discussion, a decision was made: The best way to defend the Senate bill is just to lie about it. And so they did. Here, for instance , is Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey on Face the Nation , claiming that "the Senate bill will codify and make permanent the Medicaid expansion" (a lie), and that "no one loses coverage" (another lie). In fact, the bill phases out the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, which will result in millions of Americans losing coverage. Not only that, it cuts hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid while fundamentally...

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