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

Germans Give the Rest of Us a Helping Hand.

(Flickr/ OregonDOT ) Let's pause to give thanks to the Germans, for an experiment they started 10 years ago to promote the use of renewable energy. As an article in Technology Review explains, the policy enacted in 2000 forced utility companies to buy electricity from solar, wind, and other renewable producers at inflated rates, with the costs spread across all ratepayers. This guaranteed a secure market for the renewable producers, thereby encouraging more development of these kinds of energies. It's the kind of thing that the cynics among us would say couldn't happen here in America: a policy for which everyone had to pay, to serve an environmental end, with little in the way of immediate direct benefits. It didn't create as many permanent jobs as they'd hoped, and the whole thing cost a lot of money. Of course, this is only one way to go about encouraging the development of renewable energy. But in any case, the Germans did the rest of us a favor by boosting the demand for solar...

The Obama Analogy Trap

Is Kagan Obama's Harriet Miers? Is BP his Katrina? There's a reason these comparisons tell us so little.

President Obama keeps his eye on the long game. (White House Photo/Pete Souza)
In the couple of days between the arrival of that fateful Rolling Stone article and President Barack Obama's firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, one pundit after another asked if this would be Obama's "Truman-MacArthur moment." It was just the latest in a long line of historical analogies into which people attempted to fit Obama. While it would be hard to prove with any certainty, it does seem that this presidency has seen more historical analogizing than those of the past. Why is that? Before we answer that question, let's just run down a few of the comparisons. Is the BP oil spill Obama's Katrina? Is Elena Kagan his Harriet Miers? Was his recent Oval Office address his "malaise" speech? Did he have a "Mission Accomplished moment" on Iraq? In recent days, Fox News personalities in particular have compared Obama's actions to Iraq, September 11, Enron, "Heckuva job, Brownie," and even George W. Bush reading "The Pet Goat" while airplanes hit the Twin Towers (see a montage from The Daily...

What Can I Do to Put You in This Scam Today?

If you've been following the twisted path of financial reform, you may have heard that one controversial provision, exempting car dealers from oversight by the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, looks like it's going to be included in the final bill, despite the objections of both Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd, the two chairmen responsible for negotiating the final bill. President Obama too says he opposes the carve-out, but it won't stop him from signing the bill. It happened primarily because of an extraordinary lobbying effort put on by the nation's car dealers, who benefit from the fact that they have businesses in every congressional district in the country. But just what are they protecting by being exempted from oversight? One of the things they're protecting is the ability of some of them to essentially pull con jobs on our brave fighting men and women. You might be saying, "Huh?" But take a look at this extraordinary article from Mother Jones last year: One day...

If a Black Man Tells Me Obama Is Hitler, Then By God I'll Agree.

If Louie Gohmert were a former beauty queen, chances are he'd get a lot more face time on TV, and you'd have heard of him by now. But since he's looks like an accountant, the Republican from Texas who may be Congress' single dumbest member will have to keep plying his trade on the floor of the House. Via Dave Weigel , we see Gohmert endorsing syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell 's latest missive , which begins this way: "When Adolf Hitler was building up the Nazi movement in the 1920s..." You know what's coming - in this case it's Obama convincing BP to set aside a $20 billion escrow fund that proves that genocide is right around the corner. I know - the idea that Obama=Hitler is a profound thought that you haven't contemplated before, and its unusual insight shows why Sowell is one of America's most widely syndicated columnists. But what I actually want to point to is the way Gohmert begins his tribute to Sowell: "I didn't vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but I sure would have voted for...

Flurries Reported in Hell.

I was all ready to write a post noting the hypocrisy of conservatives who pilloried Barack Obama for sacking Stanley McChrystal for his insubordination, when those very same conservatives were fond of arguing that it was unconscionably anti-American for anyone, let alone a general, to criticize the commander in chief during a time of war, so long as that commander in chief was a Republican. But guess what happened? In looking around the right side of the web, I've seen some recycled criticism of Obama in general, but almost no one railing against the decision to give McChrystal the boot. There's even some actual praise . Take this post from National Review editor Rich Lowry , titled "Obama's Home Run": I'm not sure how Obama could have handled this any better. He was genuinely graceful about McChrystal and his explanation of why he had to go made perfect sense. He called for unity within his adminstration in pursuing the war and sounded quite stalwart about both the war and about the...