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

Bush's Loyal Mess

The Bush years have shown us the downside of loyalty.

His loyal servant. (Photo by the Associated Press.)
A year and a half before the Bush era comes to its merciful end, cataloging its failures and pathologies has become not merely a cottage industry but a kind of mass mobilization, a task so vast that it requires the combined efforts of thousands of writers, talkers, thinkers, activists, and ordinary citizens. Every new look at the last six and a half years yields new insight into how government should not operate, another object lesson for future administrations. And one of those lessons of the Bush years is surely that potential disaster lurks behind what we had previously assumed to be a grand virtue: loyalty. In our daily lives, loyalty is a quality greatly prized. We admire those who are loyal to their spouses, their family, their friends, and their employers. We encourage others to be loyal to their school, their town, their state, and their country. We scorn the millionaire free agent casting off his old team for one with a fatter checkbook, and praise the ballplayer who spends a...


EZRALARK LEMON. For those who haven't seen it, you can watch Ezra delivering a first-class ass-whupping to Larry Kudlow and some anti- Michael Moore dude on TVEyes. But watching it, I couldn't help but question my own reaction. It seemed apparent that you have here a debate between 1) A blowhard wedded to his religious views about free markets, blissfully unmoored from evidence or consideration of counter-arguments; 2) An amateur plainly out of his depth, who knows virtually nothing about the topic being discussed; and 3) An appealing young man who -- and get a load of this -- actually knows what he's talking about . Every time Kudlow made an argument, Ezra told him why he was wrong in devastating fashion, marshaling facts and evidence that made clear why Kudlow was utterly deluded. He also displayed an admirable understanding of the medium in which he was operating, using concise summaries of his arguments and some clever debating tactics, as when he questioned the host (they never...


GET YOUR HUNGER UNDER CONTROL. In today's Times , Maureen Dowd takes a predictably sneering look at Hillary Clinton 's Sopranos video (if you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it at her web site ). Fine -- nothing surprising there. But Dowd feels the need to throw this in: "And like Tony, Hillary is so power-hungry that she can justify any thuggish means to get the prize." Haven't we had enough of this? Dowd should be smart enough to know that she, like so many others, is applying a ridiculous double-standard to Clinton. How many times has she called Rudy Giuliani "power-hungry," or Mitt Romney , or John Edwards , or Barack Obama ? After all, they're all running for president. You have to have a pretty strong thirst for power to subject yourself to the marathon of begging, pandering, and humiliation that is a presidential campaign. Yet there's not supposed to be anything wrong with a man who is ambitious, while the same ambition in a woman is described as sinister, even pathological...


THE DIXIE BONUS. Ezra notes below, " Edwards ' Southern accent and manners are critical in his ability to project a much more combative, sharp form of liberalism than the others are offering. What would sound like Marxism from the mouth of Howard Dean or Hillary Clinton sounds like good, old-fashioned, American populism from Edwards." From the standpoint of public perceptions, I don't disagree. And let's put aside Edwards' smooth-but-not-slick manner for a moment (to understand where smooth crosses over to slick, see Mike Huckabee ). My question is, why is it that Edwards' accent makes what he has to say more palatable? And why is Edwards at least partly right that he can go to places where Clinton, and to an extent Obama , can't? Part of this is that, to be frank, while people in Rhode Island or Oregon don't look on presidential candidates who come from regions other than their own with suspicion, lots of southerners seem to be reluctant to vote for people who don't share their drawl...

The Party of No Ideas

The quest for the GOP presidential nomination has been remarkable in its utter lack of substance, even by the low standards of political campaigns. What accounts for the vacuousness?

Two years ago, in a much-discussed cover article for The New Republic called "The Case Against New Ideas," Jonathan Chait argued that Democrats should resist the pleas of pundits to look for their political salvation in new plans and visions. But as the 2008 race gathers speed, it appears to be the Republicans who have abandoned ideas -- new or otherwise -- in a quest for the GOP nomination that has been remarkable in its utter lack of substance, even by the standards of contemporary campaigns. Think about it this way: Can you think of a single substantive proposal consisting of more than a sentence or two that any of the GOP candidates has made on the campaign trail? I'm not even talking about some lengthy policy paper or plan for overhauling a major sector of government. But any idea to do something, anything, differently than the Bush administration has? The closest one can come is the immigration bill that Congress is debating, of which John McCain is a co-sponsor. But one gets...