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

California Follies

Tuesday's primary was yet another illustration of the limits of the state's complex ballot-initiative process.

California residents protest Proposition 8. (Flickr/Steve Rhodes)
Today is primary day in California, and voters will be doing more than choosing party nominees for governor, senator, and various other offices. They'll also be voting, as they do in every election, on a series of ballot initiatives. Some are righteous, some are nefarious, and some are downright confusing. But if you're a voter in the country's largest state, you're called upon to do much of the work that legislators ought to be doing. In fact, politics in California today contains just about every distortion and perversion of democratic processes and intentions that you could imagine -- using elections for things they should never be used for, the excessive power of money in politics, and the disaster that comes from supermajority requirements, to name just a few. One matter being decided today combines all three of these distortions. It's called Proposition 16, and if you look at the "Yes" campaign's website , you'll learn that it's about giving taxpayers the right to approve any...

Don't Just Do Something, Appear to Be Doing Something!

Let's face it: Pretty much nobody knows what to do about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To even begin to assess your options, you need very specialized knowledge that few people have, and even then it doesn't appear to be much help. This doesn't stop untrained political consultants and elected officials from criticizing President Obama. Take Rudy Guiliani : [Obama] should have gone there, should have been there more than twice. He should have been leading the charge from the front. ... He should have brought in the best experts. He should have set up a team of independent advisers to be advising him directly. OK, so he should have "taken control" and "brought in the best experts." Why didn't the White House think of that? Actually, they did -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu is leading just such a team. But James Carville also chimed in , saying the president should have "been involved" with the families of those who died after the oil rig exploded. Carville's colleague Mark Penn...

The Age of Celebrity

The most glittering star in the Republican firmament, whose every Facebook update and Twitter missive sets journalists' laptops humming, who is currently embroiled in a feud with her next-door neighbor (now that the kid who knocked up her daughter has temporarily faded from view), who has one best-selling book and another on the way, not to mention the six-figure speaking fees and the gigs on two different cable networks, doesn't actually hold a job. In fact, neither do most of the other probable 2012 GOP contenders, the ex-governors and ex-congressmen, now politically famous for being famous. Remember when they mocked Barack Obama for being just a "celebrity"? Those were the days. -- Paul Waldman

Not the Bipartisanship We Were Looking For

From CNN : Energy giant BP has hired a Washington-based, bipartisan political consulting firm to produce its new aggressive national advertising push, including a national TV spot released Thursday, CNN has learned. Sources familiar with the arrangement say that Purple Strategies, headed up by veteran political consultants Steve McMahon , a Democrat, and Alex Castellanos , a Republican, produced new advertisements now running on both television and in newspapers. The sources say that BP hired Purple Strategies to produce what will likely be a series of advertisements as part of BP's attempt to rehabilitate its battered image. Purple Strategies is working alongside the Brunswick public relations firm, which has had BP as a client for some time. Its Washington office is run by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen . I know, you're shocked that a bunch of high-profile Democrats would not just be working for oil companies but working to get Americans not to feel so bad about the worst...

Old Media Colonizes New Media, or Maybe Vice-Versa.

Interesting announcement from The New York Times : The New York Times said Thursday that it would begin hosting the popular blog FiveThirtyEight and make its founder, Nate Silver , a regular contributor to the newspaper and the Sunday magazine. Mr. Silver, a statistical wizard, became a bonafide media star during the last presidential election season for his political projections based on dissections of polling data. He retains all rights to FiveThirtyEight and will continue to run it himself, but "under the banner and auspices of," The Times said in a news release. The arrangement is similar to one The Times struck with the authors of the blog Freakonomics in 2007. What this -- along with developments like The Washington Post snagging Ezra Klein from us here at TAP -- shows is that in their efforts to navigate the evolving media world, at least some august publications are widening their horizons a bit, to embrace forms of content and voices that just a couple of years...