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

Health Care's Public Perception Malady

Don't count on successful health-care reform to change the public's attitudes about government.

For many years, it was hard to know whether the oft-told story of the elderly woman who walks up to her congressman, wags a finger in his face, and says, "Tell Washington to keep its hands off my Medicare!" was actually apocryphal. But today, this episode is being re-enacted over and over again, at town meetings and in coffee shops where politicians go to practice their phrenological arts, passing their fingers over the ever-changing bumps on the public's collective pate. One recent example came in a Washington Post article , in which Rep. Bob Inglis, a Republican from South Carolina, related that an elderly constituent gave him this very instruction. The depressing punch line, however, was this: "I had to politely explain that, 'Actually, sir, your health care is being provided by the government,'" Inglis recalled. "But he wasn't having any of it." This anecdote is coming from a Republican almost guaranteed to vote against whatever health-care reform bill emerges from Congress. What...

The 10 Dumbest Arguments Against Health-Care Reform

The health-care debate has been overwhelmed by grumbling resistance. Too bad the complaints are largely groundless.

Somebody call the WAAAAAMBULANCE. (iStockphoto)
In order to reap democracy's fruits, we have to endure many sacrifices. The cost of enjoying the freedom to express our views is that we must tolerate the despicable views of others. Giving everyone the freedom to worship as they wish means that beliefs that could probably warrant intervention with powerful psychopharmacology are instead accorded the utmost respect. And a legislature made up of popularly elected representatives means that our laws are made by bodies that include no small number of liars, knaves, and fools. This is the democratic bargain. It's worth every penny, but there are times when it makes you want to scream. As the latest iteration of our once-every-generation-or-so effort to reform our disaster of a health-care system reaches its climax, we find ourselves at one of those times. The opponents of reform are getting serious now, and they've turned the volume on their megaphones of mendacity up to 11. Herewith, then, we have the 10 dumbest arguments currently...

Going Strong on the Wrong Message

The GOP became its own worst enemy during the Sotomayor hearings.

For many years, progressives have admired the strategic and rhetorical unity conservatives always manage to achieve whenever a new debate emerges. The fact that Republicans and their allies seem to speak with one voice -- making the same arguments, repeating the same talking points over and over -- gives them a leg up whenever the two sides are trying to persuade the public. Democrats and their allies, in contrast, are more often a cacophonous jumble of competing and contradictory messages, shooting off in all directions. This imbalance doesn't completely determine the outcome of events -- constantly repeating "personal accounts you control" wasn't going to make the American people agree to privatize Social Security, for instance. But it certainly works to the right's advantage. Or at least it does so long as the right's message isn't actively undermining its political goals. Which was exactly what we saw last week, making the confirmation hearings for Sonia Sotomayor a unique...

We'll Always Have Wasilla

Love her or hate her, Sarah Palin's resignation as governor of Alaska means political coverage is about to get a lot less interesting.

I have a confession: I just can't get enough of Sarah Palin. I say this as an aficionado of both the culture war – in which Palin was rapidly promoted last year to four-star general – and spectacular political flame-outs. When she gave her impossibly weird statement announcing that she would be leaving the governorship of Alaska, it was like your favorite band's farewell tour. You got to hear the old hits (Man, I hope she does "I'm Being Oppressed by the Liberal Media Elite"!), but the whole thing was touched with the melancholy that comes from knowing that there probably won't be any new albums. Before she fades into a life of motivational speaking and writing bad memoirs, it's worth taking at least one more look at this unique political phenomenon. All but the most inane commentators (I'm looking at you, Bill Kristol ) agree that her decision to resign all but put an end to Palin's presidential aspirations, presuming she has them. Anything is possible, of course, but chances are we...

Health Care's True Price

The real reason we need a public option in health-care reform isn't cost control. It's security.

Health-care wonks worth their salt will tell you that the big issue in the current effort to reform our abysmal health-care system is cost control. They say if we don't do something to rein in the spiraling cost of health-care, it will eventually bankrupt us all. This is also a key argument made by advocates of what has become the ideological fulcrum of the health-care reform debate: the public option. Those who want to give Americans the choice of a government insurance plan have talked a lot about the public option's potential to save money over private coverage. And it would -- not only because the government could negotiate lower reimbursement rates but because it wouldn't have to spend money on the things that private insurers do, like underwriting (figuring out whom to avoid covering), marketing, multimillion-dollar executive salaries, and of course, profits. Competition from a less expensive public plan would also force private insurers to become more efficient. That's all true...