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

Trump’s Fate Is in Democrats’ Hands

In that long period when we were waiting for Robert Mueller to produce his final report on the Russia scandal, many Democrats got caught up in their hopes for both what it would reveal and what the result would be. Once Mueller laid out all the facts about President Trump’s behavior both during and after the election, the truth would be impossible to deny, they believed. Impeachment would become almost an inevitability, and even many of Trump’s supporters would finally realize just how awful this president is. His support would nosedive. Of course, that’s not what happened. The report did indeed lay out all manner of crimes and misdeeds, many of which were committed by the president himself. But Republicans whipped themselves into a frenzy of denial and disinformation, helped enormously by the attorney general Trump installed in his position precisely because he had made clear that he would work to protect the president from all political harm. And in the end, Trump...

Fearful Democrats and the False Allure of Policy Centrism

Nancy Pelosi is worried about 2020. As, of course, is every Democrat, but Pelosi has an analysis of the challenge the party faces that is striking in how tentative it sounds, even frightened. Here's what she told The New York Times over the weekend: Sitting in her office with its panoramic view of the National Mall, Ms. Pelosi—the de facto head of the Democratic Party until a presidential nominee is selected in 2020—offered Democrats her “coldblooded” plan for decisively ridding themselves of Mr. Trump: Do not get dragged into a protracted impeachment bid that will ultimately get crushed in the Republican-controlled Senate, and do not risk alienating the moderate voters who flocked to the party in 2018 by drifting too far to the left. “Own the center left, own the mainstream,” Ms. Pelosi, 79, said. It wasn't that long ago that Pelosi was supposed to epitomize the left’s radicalism, a “San Francisco liberal” who filled every...

Why Democrats Can’t Punt on Impeachment

When politicians appear on the Sunday shows they're usually there to deliver talking points and make well-worn arguments, so spontaneous moments are rare. But when Representative Jerry Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and one of Donald Trump's main adversaries appeared on Meet the Press this past Sunday, one such moment offered a revealing window into where Democrats are on the question of what should be done now that Robert Mueller's report has been released to the public. During a discussion of the politics of impeaching President Trump and whether it would be good or bad for Democrats to begin that process, Nadler argued that it was a possibility, but there's no need to be hasty, since there are more hearings to be held and more evidence to gather. Then host Chuck Todd seemed to throw him with a straightforward question: "Do you think this is impeachable?" Nadler paused for a couple of seconds, his eyes drifting upward. Then finally he gave a small sigh and said...

Trump Takes Dividing the Nation to a New Level

Alex Brandon/AP Photo
Alex Brandon/AP Photo President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House. As elusive as bipartisanship might be, politicians in both parties will tell you that national unity is something we should always strive for. Particularly in a country with as much diversity as we have — not to mention one that fought a civil war — division is always a threat and a potential hindrance. Those moments when the country seemed to think and act as one, like World War II, offer lessons in what we can accomplish when we are unified. Which is why so many presidential candidates like to paint a picture of the unified future they can bring about, no matter how many of their predecessors failed at the attempt. Barack Obama said he wanted to unify the country, as did George W. Bush, as did Bill Clinton. There are complex reasons why none of them could, but we still want presidents to keep alive the hope that it might be possible. We certainly want them not to try to make our divisions...

Can the Next Democratic Presidency Be Truly Transformative?

In 2008, speaking to the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal , Barack Obama made his ambitions clear. "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America, in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not," Obama said . "He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it." At the time, you may recall, Obama's primary opponent Hillary Clinton and some other Democrats were outraged, for both the jab at Bill Clinton and the seeming compliment to Reagan. But Obama was absolutely right. No serious person would argue that the Clinton's presidency was as transformative as Reagan's had been, whatever the former's accomplishments. And unfortunately, for all his charisma, political skill, and thoughtful policy work, Obama too failed to change the trajectory of the country in the way he had hoped. In so many ways, the place we're at now is that not that different from where we were in 2008, whether it's in our political divides, the...

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