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 John McCain Wasn't, and What He Was

Senator John McCain occupies a larger space in the American political landscape than you could possibly expect for a politician who lost a presidential election and, over the course of a congressional career that lasted more than three decades, wrote only one significant piece of legislation (which wound up being overturned by the Supreme Court). But McCain differed from his peers in many ways, some of them admirable, some of them less so, all adding up to an unusually complex figure. Upon his death, we owe it to ourselves to reckon with that complexity. Over the years I have written many critical things about McCain here at the Prospect and elsewhere, not only because I took issue with his political ideology but also because reporters looked at him and reported on him in terms that were positively worshipful, more so than for any other politician in my lifetime. That perspective on McCain had a number of sources, but two stand out. The first, of course, was a respect for what he had...

'Trump 2020: Truth Isn't Truth'

Donald Trump is many things, but subtle is not one of them. So at at an event with the Veterans of Foreign Wars last month—just one of the many gatherings that he turns into a forum for partisan attacks, which no president before him would have considered—he gave a warning to his supporters. "Just remember," Trump said, "What you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening." To that bit of wisdom we can now add an extraordinary companion statement from the president's TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. On Sunday's Meet the Press , Giuliani had this incredible exchange with host Chuck Todd, who asked about the Trump legal team's unwillingness to allow the president to answer questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller: GIULIANI: Look, I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well that's so silly because...

Trump's Cabinet of Con Artists

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
During the 2016 campaign, and from time to time afterward, Donald Trump would regale his crowds with a dramatic reading of a song called "The Snake," in which a snake begs a woman to take him into her home, and then when he bites her and she expresses her shock, he says, "You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in." In Trump's telling, it was a parable about immigration—that foreigners were inherently untrustworthy and if we let them come to our country they might just kill us. But at times he almost seemed to be talking, with a wink, about himself. The country knew who he was, and made him president anyway. That may explain Trump's unusual ability to survive scandals that would have destroyed other politicians (along with the fact that there are so many of them that it can be hard to focus on any one for long). Think about Trump's various misdeeds. Were there any that were actually surprising? That revealed something about him you didn't already know? When you heard...

If You Think Trump's Racism Is Bad Now, Just Wait Until 2020

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
If you're a white person who angers Donald Trump, you never know what particular insult he'll choose to lob at you. He might call you little, or crooked, or ugly, or something else, utilizing all the insight available to your average elementary school bully. But if you're black, chances are he's going to call you stupid. In his many recent campaign-style rallies, Trump's extended stream-of-consciousness rants are sure to include a section going after Representative Maxine Waters, who, like hundreds of other elected Democrats, has been highly critical of the president. When he criticizes Waters, he inevitably calls her a "low IQ person." And then there's this: Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018 The interview in question was occasioned by the opening of a public elementary school James just built in his hometown of...

Will Voters Believe Trump's Economic Bluster?

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Absurd hyperbole has gotten Donald Trump this far, and he's not going to give it up now. Or to put it another way, "People will just believe you. You just tell them and they believe you," as the president once told his then-lackey Billy Bush. So when the economy experienced a quarter of strong GDP growth of 4.1 percent, we knew exactly what Trump would say: This is the greatest thing that has ever happened, it's because I'm such a genius, and it will go on forever. I could go through all the absurd things he has said about his current economic record, like the idea that the number of jobs created since he was elected is so spectacular that it was "unthinkable if you go back to the campaign" (actually, jobs were created at a faster pace in Barack Obama's second term). But what may be most interesting is the way Trump and his aides are now insisting that whatever good things are happening now will keep happening, uninterrupted, into the future. This is not the way normal administrations...