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

The Public Option and the Hope of Health Care Reform

Democrats' discussion of health care reform points to just how much the debate over health care reform has moved forward.

Since the remarkable results of Nov. 4, there has been much discussion about the new progressive moment in which America finds itself. But it has actually been evident for some time that we're talking about old issues in new ways. Let's take just one -- health care reform-- which could actually happen next year. One thing we know is that there will be a serious, even vicious fight over the issue. What we don't know is whether President-elect Obama will seize the moment, or succumb to the same fear that has stayed Democrats' hands for so long. In the presidential primaries, all three top Democratic candidates -- Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards -- featured in their health care plans something that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, a public option. The public option is a government health insurance program akin to Medicare, which would be open to anyone. Credit should go to Edwards, who not only was the first of the three to propose it, but who said that if so...

Nobody Here But Us Post-Partisans

Barack Obama hasn't even taken office yet, and progressives are already debating his presidency. Does it matter if Barack Obama doesn't call his policies progressive?

President-elect Barack Obama, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Barack Obama hasn't even taken office yet, and progressives have been debating his presidency with such energy it almost feels like it's time to start arguing about his legacy. Let it never be said that we're not forward-looking. Last week, Steve Hildebrand, one of Obama's key campaign aides, took to the Huffington Post to tell the left wing of the party to ease up on criticisms of Obama for not appointing a more explicitly progressive Cabinet; predictable fury, of the "who are you telling to shut up?" variety, ensued. The press was only too excited to rewrite the "Democrats divided!" story they've been penning over and over for the last few decades. But the truth is that while some have taken exception to some of Obama's appointments, on the whole, progressives are quite pleased with him so far. As former Prospect editor Michael Tomasky wrote , "I'm not nervous or flat-out angry or even concerned. I'm excited. And by the way, the vast majority of the people I know are excited, too."...


When the latest issue of The American Prospect came out -- with a picture of Barack Obama on the cover, and the headline, "Our Moment" -- occasional TAP contributor Spencer Ackerman wrote that although the headline referred to progressives in general, it might have referred to TAP itself. "Right now I think it's fair to say that the Prospect best captures the political zeitgeist of any opinion magazine out there." He's right. As much fun as it is shaking your fist at those who hold power, a magazine like the Prospect becomes even more important when the government is controlled by people who are more sympathetic its point of view. The Prospect incubates ideas, illuminates both the good and the bad in government and society, and helps set the terms of debate. And some very important people will be listening. In an alternate universe, progressive political magazines like the Prospect would be hugely profitable, paying their suffering editorial staff kingly salaries to do their essential...

Government Is Back

On Jan. 20 the Age of Reagan ends, and the Age of Obama begins. We don't know if it will last, but we do know that conservatives can no longer force everyone to play by their rules.

Years from now, we will look back on Jan. 20, 2009, as the day the era of conservative dominance we might call the Age of Reagan finally came to an end. Twenty-eight years ago, the 40th president looked out over the National Mall and proclaimed , "Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." He went on, "It is no coincidence that our present troubles parallel and are proportionate to the intervention and intrusion in our lives that result from unnecessary and excessive growth of government." It was a message the country was ready to hear, and in the years that followed, Reagan's party and his ideology dominated our political life. But this year's election -- and what has happened since -- makes it clear that a new era is beginning. Obama has seized on the economic meltdown to propose not just tougher regulations but an aggressive program of federal spending to restore infrastructure, rebuild crumbling schools, and create green jobs. We don't know yet know...

Obama and Liberals' Fears

The 2008 election was defined as much by things that didn't happen -- from racism denying Obama the presidency to working-class men finding him too elitist -- as things that did.

It's quickly becoming a cliché to call the 2008 election "historic," and we haven't even seen the passel of books about the race that will no doubt be hitting shelves six months or so from now. But before we become consumed with the blizzard of activity that will accompany President Obama's first 100 days, it's worth taking a look back at, not just what happened in 2008 but what didn't happen (and I should note that the week after the election, Prospect editor Mark Schmitt graded some of the pre-election theories; some of what he discussed is mentioned here). In fact, there may be no election in memory in which so many predictions turned out to be so wrong. That's in part because there are so many more predictions swirling around the tornado of commentary that accompanies the modern campaign. But never have so many supposedly informed and knowledgeable people gotten so much wrong in a single election. Most of the misconceptions, it turns out, can be traced back to the fact that the...