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

McCain's Judicial Hypocrisy

This week John McCain wholeheartedly embraced the idea of "judicial activism" -- a throughly mendacious concept that actually just means opposing judicial decisions that conservatives disagree with.

Both conservatives and progressives have the words and phrases they like to invoke, the commonly offered arguments, the villains and heroes who populate their rhetoric. But you could sift through every word of contemporary American political debate -- read every stump speech, pore over every press release, endure every moment of every cable chatfest -- and you would be unlikely to encounter a more complete, unadulterated, shameless piece of outright bullshit than "judicial activism." It is the ne plus ultra of disingenuousness, the zenith of cant, political deceit in its purest form. And seeing John McCain embrace it should disabuse anyone of the notion that he is somehow more honest than the typical politician. And embrace it he did, in a speech last week that got lost behind the noise of the Democratic nomination fight. Warning of the danger from "activist judges," McCain railed against the threat from "the common and systematic abuse of our federal courts by the people we entrust...


From the Arizona Republic : In tight Senate votes, McCain not a maverick When it matters the most, he seldom bucks his own party Ronald J. Hansen The Arizona Republic May. 7, 2008 12:00 AM Over the years, Sen. John McCain has publicly condemned Republican Party leaders and occasionally voted against the GOP on selected issues. But an Arizona Republic analysis of his Senate votes on the most divided issues in the past decade shows that McCain almost never thwarted his party's objectives. What do you know? An article that actually takes a feature of the McCain image, and -- hold on to your hats -- attempts to ascertain whether it's true . I'm floored. It's no accident that this is coming from the Arizona Republic. While the Republic is generally considered a pretty conservative paper, they have tangled with McCain a great deal over the years, mostly because they haven't been particularly inclined to simply repeat over and over that he's a StraightTalkingMaverickReformer. As a...

How Deep Is Your Love?

Republicans are up to their usual tricks -- questioning the patriotism of their opponents. The media, as usual, is playing along because it lauds political success, not virtue.

In September of 1988, the presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush decided to demonstrate that their Connecticut Brahmin candidate was positively turgid with patriotism, particularly in comparison to his opponent (a guy with a name that was just too ethnic). So they sent Bush to a flag factory in Verona, New Jersey, where he lovingly fondled Old Glory for the cameras. To any reasonable observer, it was just too much. But Roger Ailes, Lee Atwater, and the rest of the Bush brain trust didn't mind a bit of criticism. They made their point. It was not the first time a Republican campaign made the argument that their candidate loved America like all good Americans do, while their opponent might not. And more and more, the current campaign, at least from the Republican side, is shaping up like pretty much like every other presidential campaign of the last forty years. You've got your lack of patriotism charges, your elitism charges, your race-baiting, your fear-mongering – all the...

How Democrats Can Beat McCain

Democrats need not panic about running against John McCain. The war, the economy, and the Bush Legacy are aligned against him, and he's never had his centrist credentials attacked from the left.

Ladies and gentlemen, your intrepid press corps has circled back around to its favorite narrative: Democrats divided! The party of the people in peril! The circular firing squad locked and loaded! And what of John McCain, the Maverick (TM), the Straight Talker (TM), the One Politician Who Never Does Anything For Political Reasons, So Full Of Integrity Is He (TM)? He's just trudging along, winning over voters left and right. Based on the possibly unrepresentative sample of my friends, relatives, and acquaintances, Democrats have become extremely nervous in recent weeks. McCain, many think, has such appeal to independent voters (and lots of Democrats) that the Democratic candidate, whoever he or she may be, could be facing a uniquely tough Republican opponent. It is true that in recent decades there has not been a presidential candidate (other than vice-presidents like Bush I and Gore) who is as familiar to the public as John McCain. Since his last presidential run in 2000, he has been...

Pay No Attention to the Media Behind the Curtain

The press is convinced that badgering candidates about faux scandals is necessary because the issues, "will be raised" in the general election, but it ignores its own crucial roll in shaping the terms of debate.

"We may not like it," wrote The New York Times ' David Brooks, rising to the defense of Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos after last Wednesday's Democratic debate, "but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall." Brooks' fellow members of the media elite's innermost circle could not be blamed, he wanted you to know, for they were merely doing their jobs, forcing the candidates to answer the questions they'll have no choice but to confront in the general election. But don't let him fool you -- Brooks likes it just fine. He and his compatriots would find nothing more boring than a campaign consumed by discussions of individual mandates and redeployment plans, some kind of dreadfully tedious policy wonk-fest where issues of "culture" take only a supporting role. How then would he mine the red state-blue state pop sociology that took him from a mildly interesting writer for a conservative magazine to a prince of "serious" mass...