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

If You Won the Lottery, Would You Be the Same Person?

I recently interviewed Jeffrey Blitz , the director of the award-winning documentary Spellbound , among other films, about his new documentary. The new film, called "Lucky," debuts tonight on HBO. It's about the lottery and what happens to people when they win. Here's an excerpt from the interview: You have one subject who had his siblings put a hit out on him (unsuccessful, I should note). Were there any other depths of human depravity this subject exposed that surprised you? That was a winner named Buddy who, indeed, had his siblings try to kill him. Once was through a hit man. Buddy also told us that the bolts were taken out of his car and that he was given arsenic twice. And while this gives the movie some really wretched moments, I tried hard to not make a film that just fed into an audience's built-in sense of resentment toward people who had won money they didn't deserve. That felt too easy and also would have allowed a viewer to miss out on what I felt were the more...

Washington Post Ombudsman Unsure of What He's Supposed to Be Doing

Just what is a newspaper ombudsman for? This is a question raised by Sunday's column by Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander -- not because he raises it, but because the column is so misguided it's actually quite instructive. The column is about the manufactured "scandal" of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case. Alexander notes that the Post did a story about it, and writes, "The story succinctly summarized the issues but left many readers with a question: What took you so long?" Who are these "many readers," one might ask, who have been so determinedly demanding coverage of this issue? Might they have some ideological agenda beyond good journalism? Alexander doesn't tell us. Yet as I said last week, this story is being pushed by the right using a well-worn formula: "Take some incident or person who can embody something you want people to believe about the left (elitists, scary black people, etc.); put it into heavy rotation on Fox and conservative radio;...

Those Lazy Unemployed.

One of the things I tell college and grad students studying social science whenever I have the chance is that the most important class you can take is the one in research methods. It's usually taught by someone who doesn't really want to teach it, and it's usually pretty boring, but what you learn there gives you some vital skills. Among other things, it teaches you which questions are important to ask, and how to go about answering them. I raise this because yesterday, Jon Chait linked to Kevin Drum discussing a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Arthur Laffer , whom you might recall as the man who convinced Ronald Reagan to believe in the tax fairy, the idea that cutting taxes increases tax revenue. Even though the op-ed is a week old, it's worth taking note of, both because of the new Republican assault on the unemployed, and for what it says about our current state of political debate. Laffer's argument is that increasing unemployment benefits causes unemployment to rise. Yes, you read...

What We're Getting Is Just a Taste

You've probably heard about the New Black Panther Party "scandal," in which a guy stood outside a polling place in a heavily black precinct holding a billy club (Adam has been talking about this extensively; see here ). Well it's starting to break through to the mainstream media, as these things always do; see, for instance, this Washington Post article in which the passive voice is used extensively. It "has become a political controversy for the Obama administration," yes indeed. The conservative media pushing this story are indignant that anyone could suggest that race has something to do with their interest in it. After all, they're just passionate defenders of voting rights, and it's obvious that after looking through all the voting rights cases that have occurred in recent years, they decided that this was the most outrageous, and demanded wall-to-wall attention. We didn't need a lesson in how good the right is in kicking up these dust storms, because they've done it so many...

What's the True Face of the Tea Party?

Dave Weigel makes a good point about congressional candidate and now-famous nutball Rick Barber , whose loss in a runoff for a seat from Alabama Jamelle wrote about this morning: But the tea party's success in boosting some serious candidates, like Scott Brown , has got the nonpartisan and liberal media chasing after any candidate who ostentatiously proclaims himself a tea partier. The "wackier" his appeal, the better. The easier it is to "nail" him on his views in an interview, the better. It's a bit like when a new craze hits (let's say alt rock) and all of a sudden every going-nowhere band can get a record deal (let's say The Verve Pipe, Days of the New, Marcy Playground) simply for acting up. Fair enough -- Weigel is right that at places like TAP , we take an interest in the wackier corners of the Tea Party movement, both because we want to highlight the evidence that the movement is indeed dominated by extremists, and because people like Rick Barber are highly amusing. To take...

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