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

THE TRIUMPH OF NARRATIVE?

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...

SWARTHMOROFASCIST COMES CLEAN.

I feel obligated to chime in on this, since as far as I know, I'm the only TAPPED contributor who attended the sinister kiln in which Swarthmorofascism is fired. Although it's been a few years now since I graduated, back in my day (the late 1980s), the place was a hotbed of compulsive studying and Quaker-bred politeness. Like all good fascists, we championed the campaign of Swarthmore grad and noted radical Michael Dukakis , who was legendary for having written the lengthiest seminar paper in school history. His loss was greeted with much wailing and rending of garments. But in truth, most of the students were too neurotic about their studies to join up with the brownshirts. The emblematic moment for me came at a showing of Star Wars . When Obi-Wan asks Luke to come with him to help fight the Empire, Luke responds, "I can't get involved! I have too much work to do!" The assembled students rose from their seats and cheered. While I was there, the school paper did a long article on what...

ENHANCED BULLS***T TECHNIQUES.

As we go around and around on waterboarding yet again, I couldn't help noticing that I cannot recall a single instance in which I've seen a journalist simply refer to waterboarding and similar methods of interrogation as "torture." Yet they use terms like "enhanced interrogation techniques" over and over. The Republicans certainly won the language battle on this one. This is not complicated. Everyone all over the world agrees on what constitutes torture. Torture is the intentional infliction of physical or mental suffering in order to obtain information or confessions. Not hard to understand. Yet Republicans have successfully lured the entire journalistic community into their moral sewer, where there is some degree of suffering (defined not by how awful it is, but by whether it's fast or slow, and whether it leaves visible scars) that marks the line between torture and not-torture. If I rip your fingernails out - torture! If I tie you in a "stress position" designed to gradually...

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