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

What the 2020 Democratic Primary Campaign Will Really Be About

In 2016, many Democratic voters were less than thrilled with the spectrum of choices they were offered in the presidential primaries. Hillary Clinton was the seemingly inevitable nominee and most of the big Democratic names decided to sit out the race, so voters were left with her, Martin O'Malley, Lincoln Chafee, and Bernie Sanders. Indeed, the fact that Bernie emerged as the only real alternative to Clinton was a key part of his candidacy becoming the phenomenon, especially among young people, that it was. But 2020 will be the opposite: an enormous collection of candidates almost too large to fully assess. Last week Kirsten Gillibrand announced her candidacy, which by my count makes six official candidates and 14 others who are considering running. As voters dutifully pore over their records and proposals (I'm only half-kidding) to see who is the most appealing, there is one seldom-mentioned factor that could determine the Democratic nominee. Presidential politics, as too many...

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Has Super Powers

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clearly has superpowers. When was the last time a freshman member of Congress was able to not just vault policy issues up the agenda with a remark in an interview or a visit to a protest , but whip much of Washington into such a frenzy of consternation and jealousy? We don't yet know how Ocasio-Cortez (already known by her initials AOC) will use these powers. But her extraordinary celebrity tells us a good deal about what politics, and the Democratic Party in particular, look like in 2019. Ocasio-Cortez's rise owes a great deal to her own gifts, but it also had something to do with timing. She was one of two Democrats to defeat a House incumbent in a 2018 primary, and since the national media had largely overlooked the race until her victory and were shocked that she took down a member of the Democratic leadership, she suddenly became a perfect symbol of the election that was underway. A young, charismatic, unapologetically progressive Latina booting out a...

The Shutdown -- and All the Other Trump Chaos -- Is Just What We Expected

When controversy arose in 2016 over Trump University, the defunct operation in which Donald Trump conned gullible and desperate customers out of thousands of dollars and in some cases their life savings, the Republican presidential nominee insisted that in fact the attendees at the real estate seminars couldn't have been happier with the wealth-creating secrets they had learned. In fact, he said , the program received "98 percent approval rating by the students that took the course—98 percent," a series of "beautiful statements" attesting to their satisfaction. "That's why I won't settle the case." In the end, Trump did settle the case, paying his victims $25 million. But I bring this up because what he's saying now about the government shutdown has such a familiar ring to it. The people Trump is victimizing are, in his telling, enthusiastic about not being able to pay their bills. "Many of those workers have said to me, communicated—stay out until you get the funding for...

Trump's Wall Keeps Getting Smaller

If you're an ardent Trump supporter, the president is not making things easy for you. This is particularly true when it comes to his "big, beautiful wall" that was supposed to stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, not just a physical barrier to immigrants but a symbol of all the hopes you poured into Trump's candidacy. Two years into his presidency it still hasn't risen out of the desert, it doesn't look like it's getting closer, and all the president offers you for his failure to deliver on his promise is excuses and misdirection. For a brief moment last week, it appeared that some sense would prevail in Donald Trump's White House. Just as he had on multiple occasions before, the president threatened to veto the spending bill necessary to keep the government open unless he got funding earmarked for his border wall. But in the past Trump has always backed down, persuaded that it wasn't worth shutting down the government. That looked like what would happen this time as...

The Worst Mistake of Their Lives

When Michael Cohen first put Donald Trump in his sights, he obviously had a plan. Over a decade ago, Cohen owned a number of apartments in Trump-branded buildings when he intervened on Trump's side in a dispute on the condo board of Trump World Tower, in which some tenants wanted to remove Trump's name from the building. With Cohen's help the pro-Trump side prevailed, and The Donald was so impressed he brought Cohen into his inner circle. You can imagine what Cohen thought at that point. Here I am, working for the famous Donald Trump! This is going to be great for me. Money, prestige, globetrotting excitement—anything is possible. Cohen's association with Trump did indeed get him those things, at least for a while. But now that association is sending him to jail. We're seeing something similar with many of Trump's associates. They looked at Trump, a larger-than-life figure with fame and money, and believed that attaching themselves to him could bring them something they wanted,...

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