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

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-...

If Democrats Take the House in November, They Need a Plan for What Comes Next

Mitch McConnell was right. When he said in 2010 that "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president," the only surprising thing about it was that it was more forthright than politicians usually are. He was only saying what everyone already understood by then: Not only that Republicans were already trying to make Obama's life miserable, but that if they took the House in that fall's elections (which they did), then destroying his chances at winning a second term would be their primary goal. That, and stopping Obama from passing any meaningful legislation; as John Boehner said about Obama's agenda right before the election that made him speaker of the House, "We're going to do everything—and I mean everything we can do—to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can." Right now Democrats are in the position Republicans were eight years ago, on the cusp of a victory that could remake the political landscape and the...

Everything Is Backlash

The battle over Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court will have effects for years to come—legally, sociologically, and politically—and to understand the political question, you need only ask who was made angrier by the spectacle we just witnessed. Is it Democratic voters, who watched while the GOP rallied around a man credibly accused of sexual assault, belittled his accuser, then celebrated their triumph in putting him on the court to (among other things) eviscerate women's reproductive rights? Or is it Republican voters, who were terribly offended by what a fine upstanding son of the elite like Kavanaugh had to endure? In other words, whose backlash is going to be bigger? The answer will determine what happens in November and beyond. It's too early to know for sure, though I have my suspicions. But if the very question makes you despair, you're probably not alone. American politics has become a cycle of endless backlash, every new development followed by a...

The Best Explanation for Ford's and Kavanaugh's Conflicting Stories

(Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
As soon as allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Brett Kavanaugh began circulating, Republicans knew they had a problem, even if they were disinclined to believe that one of their own could ever have been guilty of any misdeeds. Already facing the potential of huge midterm losses driven by women candidates and women voters, and worried about the spectacle of 11 white Republican men snarling at a woman telling her story of sexual abuse, they found a fig leaf—a female prosecutor who could interrogate Christine Blasey Ford about the assault she says she suffered at Kavanaugh's hands. But what about the fallout from all of them dismissing Ford's allegations, as they inevitably would? Ever creative, Republicans have found another fig leaf, a way of claiming that they believe Ford while not actually believing her. Part of their logic does make some sense. But the place it takes them to is upside down. Not only that, there's a strong piece of evidence supporting Ford's claim,...

Why Republicans Are Fighting so Hard for Brett Kavanaugh

In an alternate universe, the White House, with the strong support of Republicans on Capitol Hill and everywhere else, has said to Brett Kavanaugh, "We're sorry, Brett, but the accusation that you attempted to rape Christine Blasey Ford when you were both teenagers has made it impossible to proceed with your nomination to the Supreme Court. You're going to have to step aside in favor of another candidate." That's not what happening in this universe, however. And why not? We sometimes believe that people who work in politics are infinitely cynical, that there's nothing they won't do for political advantage and no goal that takes precedence over winning. While that may be true of a figure here or there ( Mitch McConnell comes to mind), both parties regularly do politically questionable or even foolhardy things, because they think they're in the right. Of course they'll try to minimize the political damage, but even in the face of danger they will forge headlong into near-certain defeat...

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