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

Don't Mess with Nancy Pelosi

Politics, Albert Einstein supposedly said, is more difficult than physics. It's full of uncontrolled variables, experiments impossible to repeat, and human beings in all their unpredictable cravenness, ambition, and ignorance. In our media-saturated age, when we call someone a good politician we're usually thinking of their charisma, their rhetorical skill, and their ability to win the affections of their constituents. The quieter work that goes on in back rooms is harder to see and therefore to judge. Except at certain moments like this one. Nancy Pelosi, target of endless criticism and thousands upon thousands of attack ads, is showing what it means to be a good politician. While she hasn't yet guaranteed her place as the next speaker of the House, she is busily dismantling the rebellion she has faced in the last year or so, what appeared to be the most serious threat to her leadership in the 16 years she has led House Democrats. And in the process, she's showing why she's stuck...

Donald Trump Will Never Change His Strategy

Failure is a great teacher, but only if you actually understand you've failed and are willing to admit it. And when it comes to the midterm elections, President Trump admits nothing. Which suggests both that he has learned nothing, and that his 2020 re-election campaign—and everything that comes between now and then—will reflect that vacuum of understanding. On Sunday, Fox News aired an interview Chris Wallace conducted with the president, and the topic of the Democrats' extraordinary midterm victory naturally came up. Trump tried to insist that it had actually been a spectacular victory, not just for Republicans but for him personally. He repeated "I won the Senate" three times, claiming absurdly that the GOP's gain of two Senate seats was "a far greater victory" than taking the House was for Democrats. But confronted with all the ways Democrats won, not just in terms of seats but with key constituencies and in key states, Trump switched gears to insist the election had...

The Midterms Showed that the Real America Is Democratic

You've heard lots of figures from the 2018 election, but here's what may be the most remarkable one: Once the last couple of House races finish counting, Republicans will have only between 12 and 14 women in their caucus, out of around 200 members. You'll be able to fit all the Republican congresswomen in one van. Before the election there were 23 of them, which was nothing to be proud of, but between retirements, defeats, and some running for higher office, the number was slashed almost in half—even as a wave of successful Democratic women candidates brings the total number of women in the House over 100 for the first time. Democrats are an even more diverse party, and Republicans are almost entirely represented by white men, a group that makes up 30 percent of the American population. That's just one of the ways in which this election moved the two parties apart. They're even more different ideologically than they were before, but perhaps most strikingly, they represent two...

Republicans Undertake Last-Minute Wave of Voter Suppression

(AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
If voting weren't important, it's been said, Republicans wouldn't work so hard to keep people, especially African Americans, from doing it. And with the 2018 midterm elections upon us, they're doing everything they can to put up a few last hurdles in front of those trying to exercise the franchise. You can see why they're worried. Democratic enthusiasm is extraordinarily high this year, even among the young, who normally sit out midterms. States, counties, and districts from all over are reporting record turnout in early voting. Instead of the usual turnout of 30 percent or so we see in a midterm, this year it could approach 50 percent, more like a presidential year. Places where Republicans would ordinarily expect to win without expending much effort are competitive for the first time in years. Even before they knew that they'd face a backlash against their repellent president, Republicans were using their power to limit whether Democrats could vote and whether their votes would...

The First Family of Fraud

(Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx/AP Images)
When Donald Trump was wondering what mocking nickname to affix to Hillary Clinton, he quite cleverly settled on "Crooked Hillary," playing off the years of Republican investigations into faux scandals and the widespread sense that she and her husband Bill sometimes danced too close to the ethical line. The most brilliant thing about it was that it managed to muddy the waters about just who the crooked one was. "I know you are but what am I" is a common Republican strategy, so it shouldn't have been too surprising. But when we look back now and recall that there was actually a vigorous debate in the media in 2016 about whether not Donald Trump but Hillary Clinton was too corrupt to be president, the mind boggles. That's because, as I've argued repeatedly for some time now, even as he ran for president it was obvious that Trump was not simply someone who ignored some inconvenient rules or regularly stretched the truth in his life's work of self-promotion. No, he may well be the single-...

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