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

A Scandal Is Coming. Eventually.

A while back, the Obama administration tried to convince Joe Sestak not to run in the Democratic primary against Sen. Arlen Specter , suggesting that it might give him some sort of position on an unpaid commission. Republicans have been torn by the question of whether this rather mundane bit of political deal-making was just worse than Watergate, or might actually be one of history's greatest crimes. Jonathan Chait makes a good observation about this issue: I'm trying to come up with reasons why the press has taken this seriously. The best I can do is that President Obama has been in office for nearly a year and a half and we've yet to have even an appetizer-sized scandal. Therefore, everybody's jumping on the first one to come along. Look: Obama's going to be there for four or eight years. Eventually somebody in his administration will do something that's actually illegal, or at least unethical in a way that doesn't require redefining utterly normal political behavior as unethical...

No Disrespect.

Jon Stewart has a riff about how some people think that adding "No disrespect" to something they say can make even the most offensive statements acceptable. "Your mother's a whore -- no disrespect." That's essentially the position Newt Gingrich is taking. On the one hand, he has a new book out, which is all about how Barack Obama 's "secular-socialist machine" is a greater threat to America than Hitler or Stalin were. On the other hand, he still wants to remain a member of polite political society. So we get this ( from Think Progress ): Newt Gingrich sat down with the Des Moines Register editorial board this week to discuss his new book To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular Socialist Machine . Right at the start of the interview, a Register editor asked if Gingrich thinks “voters are stupid since they elected President Obama in 2008.” The former Speaker walked back the entire premise of his book. “The whole question of the scale of change has nothing to do with Obama,” he said...

More Non-Sucky Government Websites, Please.

The Sunlight Foundation just announced the winners of its Design for America contest, in which they asked designers to come up with innovative visualizations of government data, and things like redesigns of government websites. Not every one will change your life, but there are definitely some great ideas there. For instance, look at the proposal for a redesign of the IRS website by a design firm called A Good Company; then look at the big bag of nothing that is the actual IRS website . The difference shows just how useful, informative, and generally pleasing government websites could be, and how bad they often are. Here's a quick video that shows some of what the Sunlight Foundation's contest inspired: -- Paul Waldman

Defense and Deficit Hawkery.

When the House passed a defense authorization bill last week, the big news was that an amendment providing for the repeal of the ban on gays serving in the military was included. But there was something else notable about it too: the price tag. The bill came to $726 billion. In a break from the Bush years, it actually provides for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of declaring those to be "emergency" spending, as though we didn't see it coming. But here's what I'd like to know: Where are all those "fiscal conservatives" who said that it just cost too darn much to extend unemployment benefits? That we have to live within our means, and stop borrowing money? That the government needs fiscal discipline? That the deficit is a time bomb that will obliterate us all? Where were they? Nowhere. They're quite happy to borrow hundreds of billions to spend on defense, because they just happen to like spending money on defense. They don't find unemployment benefits, or health care, or...

The Final DADT Battle

What was once a divisive question has now become about as close to a matter of consensus as we get in American politics these days.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (DoD/Chad J. McNeeley)
Ask a schoolchild about the civil-rights movement, and he'll tell you that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, then Martin Luther King Jr. gave the "I Have a Dream" speech, then some laws were passed, and now everyone's equal. The truth, of course, is that things moved much slower than that. Ten years passed between the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education ordering the desegregation of schools, and the passage of the Civil Rights Act, for instance. And if legal changes are slow, changes in beliefs and attitudes can be glacial in their progress. It's been 17 years since Bill Clinton tried unsuccessfully to remove the ban on gay Americans serving in the armed forces, which resulted in the disastrous policy known as "don't ask, don't tell" (DADT). Last week saw the latest development in this ongoing saga: On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the defense authorization bill, which would repeal the ban, and a few hours later,...