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

Why Conservatives' Crush on Obama Is Doomed

The heart of conservative affection for Barack Obama is that he "never brings race into it," by which they mean that he doesn't make them feel guilty about race. Don't count on the affection continuing forever.

Many different kinds of people listen to Barack Obama and get a little weak in the knees. Young people are enraptured by him, political independents are attracted to him, African-Americans are proud of him, progressives are inspired by him. But the praise is also coming from one corner one would least expect: conservatives. David Brooks, house conservative of the New York Times op-ed page, practically wept with joy at Obama's Iowa victory. "You'd have to have a heart of stone not to feel moved by this," he wrote the next day. "Whatever their political affiliations, Americans are going to feel good about the Obama victory … Obama is changing the tone of American liberalism, and maybe American politics, too." Rick Brookheiser of the National Review -- yes, that National Review -- wrote on the night of the caucus, "One of our great national sins is being obliterated, as the years pass, by the virtues of our national system. I don't agree with Obama and I don't particularly like...


If it weren’t for the fact that Barack Obama ’s campaign is reluctant to run any negative ads, they would be blanketing the airwaves with one of the key moments from Saturday night’s debate: First, you can just feel the frustration coming off Hillary Clinton . It wasn’t supposed to be this way. She was supposed to have the nomination the way Al Gore did in 2000 -- some limited opposition, easily beaten back. But this youngster, four years removed from being a state senator, comes along, raises as much money as her, runs a brilliant campaign, and beats her in Iowa. One almost expects her to look at Obama and say, “Who the hell do you think you are?” But when she says at the end, “We don’t need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered,” she’s making Obama’s supporters more fervent and driving more people to his cause. To actually say that we shouldn’t have too much hope is about as...


As observant Prospect/TAPPED readers know, I've written a lot about the importance of narrative in presidential campaigns, and I can't help but see Barack Obama 's win in Iowa as evidence of the key role storytelling plays. It has been clear for a long time that Obama had the most carefully constructed and coherent story to his campaign. To put it simply, if you cast a vote for Obama, you know what that vote says about your beliefs about the country, your beliefs about him, and your beliefs about yourself. With the possible exception of Edwards, none of the candidates on either side has a story nearly as clear. And this may be Hillary Clinton 's key problem -- the problem she had in Iowa, and the problem she'll have moving forward. Just what is a vote for her supposed to mean? What kind of a proclamation am I making if I vote for her? For all the Clinton campaign's skill and experience, they never answered this fundamental question. And now it appears that John McCain could well end...

The Unease Factor

It would be grossly unfair to charge that Hillary Clinton is endeavoring to stir up the same kind of fear that George Bush did four years ago. But there is little question that she is trying to make voters feel unsettled.

It seemed like this day would never come: Americans are about to actually start voting in the presidential primaries. And as the clock wound down, the policy differences, small as they were to begin with, receded into the background. While the Republican race is a factional contest pitting different arms of the GOP coalition against each other, the Democratic race has become, as Mark Schmitt so astutely argued, the "theory of change" primary . Hillary Clinton's talking point -- "Some people think you hope for change. Some people think you demand it. I believe you work for it" -- is a reasonably fair summation of the three candidates' perspectives, even if none of them have actually told us anything in particular about how they'd go about overcoming opposition to enacting things like health-care reform. When Clinton says she'll work really hard and bring her experience to bear, what exactly does that mean? When John Edwards says he'll "fight" the insurance companies, what sort of fight...

Who Will Get the VP Nod?

Bored with the primary horse race? Here's a rundown of whom the Democratic and Republican candidates should consider for their wingmen.

A few weeks ago, we mused on whom each of the leading presidential candidates would most like to face in a general election. Since nothing pleases a political junkie more than wild speculation, it's time -- before the actual voting begins and candidates quickly begin to be knocked out of contention -- to make some guesses about what will a few months from now briefly consume the political press: the vice-presidential choices. And in truth, it might be more timely than you think. Although candidates traditionally announce their VP choices just before the conventions, there is no law that says they must wait that long. If he or she chose, a candidate could name a running mate as soon as the nomination is effectively secured, which this year will probably be in early February. Or a candidate who wanted to do something really revolutionary could even name a running mate right now . Imagine the storm of news coverage that would follow, not to mention the immediate doubling of the ground...