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

A Guide to Media Manipulation, Republican Style

In recent years the GOP has turned the technique of making hay from their opponents' words into a reliable formula for success -- with a few distortions and a little help from the media, of course.

After he lost the 2004 presidential election, it looked as though, like many who had been in his position before -- Adlai Stevenson, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey -- John Kerry might take one more shot at reaching the Oval Office four years after falling short. But then on Monday, October 30, 2006, the local NBC affiliate in Los Angeles aired a story on Kerry's appearance that day at a campaign event. The story included a clip of Kerry delivering what quickly came to be known as the "botched joke," in which what was intended as a dig at President Bush's history as an inattentive student and all-around nincompoop came out sounding like an allegation that American troops are uneducated. One hour later, a popular conservative talk show host in Los Angeles played the clip on his show, complete with the absurd yet predictable allegation that Kerry was intentionally maligning America's brave troops. At 2:34 a.m. Eastern time the next morning, a link to the clip appeared on the Drudge...


WHY NOT GO ALL THE WAY? Barack Obama is getting some flak from his opponents for coming out in favor of some mild alterations in the Cuba embargo. So my question is, why not go all the way and advocate ending the embargo completely? But we can't annoy those Cuban-American voters, can we? Gotta prove we're tough on Castro ! The collective cowardice from both parties on this issue is truly stunning. If there was ever a policy that we can all agree has been a complete failure, it's this one. Anyone who thinks that after 45 years, if we just hold out a little longer we'll crush Fidel's will, has to be insane. And the only voters who care so much about this that they'll vote against anyone who opposes the embargo are aging Cuban exiles who are utterly devoted to the Republican Party anyway. Here's a golden opportunity for Obama to show that new thinking he keeps telling us about. What if he said this: "After 45 years, we know the embargo is not working. My opponents are too afraid of...


TO INFINITY, AND BEYOND! Today's successful landing of the space shuttle reminded me of something I've been wanting to point out. If you're like most people, your memory of the great space race goes something like this: 1957: Soviets launch Sputnik. Americans get serious about education. 1961: JFK takes office, pledges to put a man on the moon in ten years. 1969: Neil Armstrong steps on the moon. Hooray! We win! The only trouble is, that wasn't the whole story. In fact, for all the extraordinary achievement of our space program, except for the Big Enchilada of getting a man to the moon first, the Soviets pretty much kicked our asses at every other step along the way. Not only did they get the first satellite up, they had the first living being in space ( Laika the dog, who sadly did not return to gambol in the Siberian snow), the first man in space, the first woman in space, the first person to orbit the earth, the first man-made object to orbit the sun, the first man-made object on...

The Utter Uselessness of the Petraeus Report

If you think the White House-penned report on Iraq will be anything other than a validation of "the surge" and the Bush administration's larger strategy, you haven't been paying attention.

President Bush meets with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the incoming Commander of Multi-National Force, on Jan. 26, 2007 in the Oval Office of the White House. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Just a few weeks from now, the most eagerly anticipated premier of the year will finally be here, complete with fierce disagreement among the critics and relentless hype by the producers, cameras furiously clicking when the starring players emerge in public. That premier is the report coming in mid-September from U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and, more importantly, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of American forces there. If you're expecting a surprise ending, you shouldn't hold your breath. But it isn't just the report itself that is utterly predictable. The script for what will come afterward is a sure thing, too. Unfortunately for President Bush, the public is approaching Petraeus's report with a healthy degree of skepticism. A CNN poll last week asked respondents this question: "As you may know, in September the top U.S. commander in Iraq will report to the President and Congress about how the war is going. Do you trust him to report what's really going on in Iraq without...


LIFTING THE VEIL. Lots of people are talking today about whether Karl Rove is attacking Hillary Clinton in order to boost Clinton's chances to become the Democratic nominee, on the assumption that she is the most beatable candidate. What's unusual about this is that some in the press (see the Los Angeles Times ) are trying to discern Rove's motives by contemplating the idea that he might be attempting to get them to write a particular story, as opposed to just taking his words at face value. Back when Rove was considered a political genius, the press was much more likely to examine his words for their inherent wisdom and brilliance. Consider July 4, 2003, when during an appearance at an Independence Day parade, Rove made a big show, in front of reporters, of letting it be known that Howard Dean was the candidate Republicans saw as the weakest in the general election. Here's how the Washington Post reported it: Rove Spends the Fourth Rousing Support for Dean By Juliet Eilperin July 5,...