Paul Waldman

Paul Waldman is the Prospect's daily blogger and senior writer. He also blogs for the Plum Line at the Washington Post, and is the author of Being Right is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn From Conservative Success.

Recent Articles

The New Obama and the Midterms.

One of the things that has always infuriated progressive activists about Barack Obama is his insistence on "reaching out" to Republicans, long after it becomes clear they're not interested in working with him. But as we came to understand very quickly, reaching out, even if only in his rhetoric, is just written into Obama's DNA. And even if it's only a political strategy -- presenting himself as the reasonable one, so that when bipartisanship fails he comes out looking like the good guy -- it's a strategy he's deeply invested in, and won't be giving up. But that isn't to say that Obama can't be seriously partisan when he wants to be. And his speech yesterday in Ohio marked the real beginning of the White House's 2010 election efforts. The speech was a partisan barn-burner, in which he mentioned John Boehner eight times. There are 53 days left before the election. That time is going to be a test both of Obama's willingness to hit Republicans and the degree to which a group of people...

Nation Demands Moral Leadership From Sarah Palin.

Talking Points Memo is rounding up comments of conservatives who are coming out against that Florida pastor's clever plan to commemorate September 11 by burning Qurans. What's remarkable about this is how tepid the comments are: So far today, Haley Barbour says it's not a "good idea." John Boehner says it's "unwise." And now honorary Republican Joe Lieberman says the church should "reconsider and drop their plans." Of course, there is a practical consideration here: As David Petraeus has said, Quran burning inflames Afghans and other Muslims against the U.S., reinforces the argument al-Qaeda makes that America is at war with Islam, and ultimately puts the lives of U.S. service members at greater risk. But all that aside, imagine for a moment it was a religious leader of a different faith who was planning to burn Bibles. Wouldn't political leaders be using somewhat stronger language? Not that this is "unwise" or that the nutcase responsible ought to "reconsider," but probably language...

More Confusing Data on the November Elections.

As everyone knows, this November's election will be a disaster for Democrats. Or will it be? As Mark Blumenthal tells us , most (not all, but most) of the political scientists who presented their forecasts to the American Political Science Association's annual meeting agreed that, according to their projections, the GOP will take the House, perhaps by a comfortable margin. On the other hand, Gallup, which last week reported the biggest advantage for Republicans in the generic ballot test it had ever recorded, has this week's result snapping right back to a tie (more evidence of why you should never put too much stock in one poll result). Problem is, both polls and these kinds of projections work from national conditions and results to get a bead on what are actually 435 separate races. To confuse things further, here's something important that I haven't seen discussed much: Democrats have a substantial money advantage. Not just the party committees, but individual candidates. Look at...

Things Get Depressing in California.

As you probably know, California suffers under an absurdly dysfunctional political system, particularly when it comes to the budget. Because of the diabolical Proposition 13 passed in 1978, raising taxes requires a two-thirds supermajority of both houses of the legislature. A two-thirds supermajority is also required to pass every budget. And of course, no one wants their services cut, which means the state is perpetually beset by deficits and budget crises. This November, they'll get a new governor, either Republican billionaire Meg Whitman , or 1970s retread Jerry Brown (see the Prospect 's story on Brown's candidacy here ). Whitman has already spent a staggering $120 million on the race, and now Brown is finally up with his first TV spot. Let's take a look: Brown wasn't really anybody's favorite candidate, but this is truly depressing. There are some ads that seem to be written right from polling and focus group results, but you'll seldom find one that comes so directly from the...

Your Morning Economic Pessimism.

With his usual clarity, Paul Krugma n explains why the current economic situation is looking a lot like 1938. It's not a pretty picture, and what's so bracing about Krugman's analysis is that despite the note of hope on which he ends, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that our current political situation makes doing what's necessary all but impossible: The economic moral is clear: when the economy is deeply depressed, the usual rules don’t apply. Austerity is self-defeating: when everyone tries to pay down debt at the same time, the result is depression and deflation, and debt problems grow even worse. And conversely, it is possible — indeed, necessary — for the nation as a whole to spend its way out of debt: a temporary surge of deficit spending, on a sufficient scale, can cure problems brought on by past excesses. But the story of 1938 also shows how hard it is to apply these insights. Even under F.D.R., there was never the political will to do what was needed to end the Great...

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