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

It's Not You; It's Me

As California's same-sex-marriage trial ends, the case against marriage equality is all about straight people.

In 2003, the Supreme Court, in the case of Lawrence v. Texas , declared that statutes outlawing sodomy were unconstitutional, because the moral judgment of a majority was not sufficient reason to deprive a minority of its fundamental rights. In a typically spirited dissent , Justice Antonin Scalia declared that the majority had "taken sides in the culture war" -- though of course, he, in opposition, was not taking sides but merely objectively assessing the Constitution. "Today's opinion," Scalia wrote, "dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned." Last week in a federal courtroom in San Francisco, closing arguments were made in Perry v. Schwarzenegger , a case that could well prove Scalia right. But in the intervening years, the case against gay rights has changed dramatically. Gone is the assertion of moral condemnation that lay at the...

Why Did the U.S. Get Robbed of a Win? Right-Wing Authoritarianism.

OK, I'm kidding - sort of. But bear with me. Before we get to the travesty of the Americans' match against Slovenia, let me explain what I mean. At their cores, conservatism and liberalism have different approaches to bad behavior, whether we're talking about kids acting out or criminals making mayhem. The conservative perspective says that people are fundamentally sinful and fallen, and will get away with as much as they can. You need harsh penalties to keep them from straying, otherwise they'll run rampant. The liberal perspective says that people are fundamentally good, and while punishment is necessary for some actions, on the whole you do a better job with carrots than sticks. That's an extremely simplified version of the difference, but you can see it in parenting styles, and most clearly in the criminal justice system. There, it often seems that the conservative perspective says that allowing a guilty person to go free is worse than punishing an innocent person. Or even that...

Dogs of War.

Things may gradually be improving in Iraq, but it's not a good time to be a dog in Baghdad, as Mother Jones tells us : Amid its struggles with Sunni jihadists, Shiite radicals, and Kurdish separatists, the Iraqi government is training its sights on a new enemy: dogs. According to the UK's Daily Mail , Iraq is spending 35 million dinars—about $30,000—to send 20 shotgun-wielding squads out to hunt down the capital's strays. Their goal: Killing one million canines. So far, they've scratched 42,000, and they're averaging 2,400 a day. "We could consider this the biggest campaign of dog execution ever," Baghdad's chief veterinarian, Mohammed al-Hilly, told the newspaper . Put so bluntly, it sounds heinous, perhaps even criminal. It's also a tough pill to swallow for many US servicemembers in Iraq, who find comfort in adopted Iraqi pets that wandered in from the wild. But the dog-eradication program is incredibly popular among Iraqis, and could even enhance the government's standing with its...

What Ever Happened to Ann Coulter?

Remember Ann Coulter ? Seems like just yesterday she was Queen of the Right, the whole political world hanging on her every bile-laced tirade. Yet she's all but disappeared. Not that she isn't trying. She's still got her weekly column over at Human Events (latest entry: "Alvin Greene: The Most Qualified Democrat I Have Ever Seen" - Har har!). She still makes regular appearances on Fox, showing up to gab with Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity . But she seems to have completely lost her ability to move from the right-wing outlets into the mainstream discussion. So what happened? First, her shtick just got old. "Ann Coulter said something offensive!" could only be big news so many times. After a while, it seemed like she was just trying to be outrageous for the sake of outrageousness. I'll attack 9/11 widows ! I'll call Al Gore "a total fag" ! Aren't I outrageous! Look at me!!! After a while it ceased to be interesting. But something else happened. These are boom times for the right. Certain...

Real Presidents Don't Eat Quiche.

So, you say in zis dream your mother is chasing you vith a giant cucumber, and you have no cucumber of your own vith vich to strike her down? Very interesting... You may not recall (it was a relatively short-lived campaign kerfuffle), but in August 2008, John McCain attacked Barack Obama for mentioning that one way people could save gas was by keeping their tires properly inflated. The McCain campaign started giving away tire gauges with "Obama's energy plan" printed on them, and sent their candidate out to hold a campaign event in front of a working oil rig, to demonstrate his commitment to drilling, baby, drilling. In response, I wrote a column about how the obvious Freudian implications -- Obama as teeny-weeny tire gauge, McCain as big oil drill thrusting its shaft into the earth -- were not only too obvious to miss, but fit in with a long line of Republican campaigns alleging that their Democratic opponents were sissies. A number of conservatives mocked the column, finding the...