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

DEEP FRIED TWINKIES AND A COW MADE OF BUTTER? THAT REMINDS ME OF SEPTEMBER 11.

DEEP FRIED TWINKIES AND A COW MADE OF BUTTER? THAT REMINDS ME OF SEPTEMBER 11. For a brief moment, it seemed that Rudy Giuliani was laying off the September 11 references just a bit, perhaps out of an awareness that if he lays it on too thick, people might start asking whether walking down a street pointing dramatically while being filmed, and giving a couple of good press conferences, really qualifies one to be leader of the free world. But fear not: it’s always September 12 in Rudyville, particularly when confronted by a potentially hostile conservative audience. Speaking before the NRA, Rudy explained why his history of criticizing the group as extremists and his lawsuit against gun manufacturers are just bygones that should be bygones. Although he wasn't specific about whether he now favors providing every man, woman and child with an AR-15 to mow down the terrorists who could soon be crawling through our streets, he did say that September 11 put "a whole different emphasis...

Voting for Strategy Over Policy

Voters can't -- and shouldn't -- judge who has the best health-care plan without hearing a persuasive case for why each candidate can overcome the political obstacles that stand in the way of meaningful reform.

On more than a few occasions in recent years, astute commentators (mostly in the blogosphere) have chastised Democratic politicians for talking strategy in public. To take just one example, instead of demonstrating their strength and principles in national security, the politicians say things like, "We've got to demonstrate our strength and principles in national security." The 2004 campaign showed the danger of integrating political strategy too much from the voter's end: John Kerry became the Democratic nominee in no small part because of the perception that he was "electable," a judgment that turned out to be based on faulty premises both about what makes a winning campaign and what Republicans would or would not stoop to (i.e. having their dynamic duo of draft-dodgers attack the military service of a war hero). So the lesson many reasonably learned is that candidates should talk about substance, not strategy; what they want to do, not how people will perceive what they want to do...

THE BATTLE IS JOINED.

THE BATTLE IS JOINED. For years, I've been arguing that what the left needs to do is wage all-out war not just on particular problems or Republican screw-ups, but on conservatism itself. As I wrote on this very web site way back in 2005: Unlike liberals, conservatives don't simply criticize specific candidates or pieces of legislation, they attack their opponents' entire ideological worldview. Tune into Rush Limbaugh or any of his imitators, and what you'll hear is little more than an extended discourse on the evils of liberalism, in which specific events are merely evidence that the real problem is liberal ideology. Liberals may write best-selling books about why George W. Bush is a terrible president, but conservatives write best-selling books about why liberalism is a pox on our nation (talk radio hate-monger Michael Savage , for instance, titled his latest book Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder ). Indeed, large portions of the conservative movement can be understood as an effort to...

"VERY PROUD OF THE PERSON HE BELIEVES HIMSELF TO BE."

"VERY PROUD OF THE PERSON HE BELIEVES HIMSELF TO BE." On the Daily Show on Wednesday, Jon Stewart interviewed Robert Draper , the author of Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush . In the course of the interview, Stewart gave what may be the most concise, insightful description of George W. Bush , the man, that has been offered in the last eight years: "After reading this book, I get the sense of a man who is very proud of the person he believes himself to be, but he is in fact the opposite of that person." Hard to say it better than that. As I was watching the president last night, I couldn't help but ask myself: what, as a writer, am I going to do when he's gone? Between a book, a couple of hundred columns, and innumerable blog posts, I'd estimate that I've written somewhere between a quarter million and a half million words about him over the last five years. When his presidency started, I was a graduate student intending to spend my days as an academic, penning articles on...

Why Health Care Is a Losing Issue for the GOP

The Republicans candidates' love affair with free-market fundamentalism has prevented them from addressing the health care crisis. The Democrats should take full advantage of that.

On March 10, 1994, less than four months after Bill Clinton's health care plan was introduced in Congress and half a year before it would die its bitter death without ever coming to a vote, the Wall Street Journal published the results of a poll and focus groups they had conducted on the Clinton plan. The article explained that although only 37 percent of respondents said they supported the Clinton plan, when various health care options were read to them without identifying their sponsors, 76 percent said the Clinton plan had either "a great deal of appeal" or "some appeal," making it more popular than any of the competing proposals. Voters had no idea what was in the Clinton plan, but they knew they didn't like it. Among many of the focus group participants, "the most memorable source [of information on the Clinton plan] has been health-insurance-industry commercials strongly criticizing elements of the Clinton plan, including the famous 'Harry and Louise' ads that depict an '...

Pages