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


TO INFINITY, AND BEYOND! Today's successful landing of the space shuttle reminded me of something I've been wanting to point out. If you're like most people, your memory of the great space race goes something like this: 1957: Soviets launch Sputnik. Americans get serious about education. 1961: JFK takes office, pledges to put a man on the moon in ten years. 1969: Neil Armstrong steps on the moon. Hooray! We win! The only trouble is, that wasn't the whole story. In fact, for all the extraordinary achievement of our space program, except for the Big Enchilada of getting a man to the moon first, the Soviets pretty much kicked our asses at every other step along the way. Not only did they get the first satellite up, they had the first living being in space ( Laika the dog, who sadly did not return to gambol in the Siberian snow), the first man in space, the first woman in space, the first person to orbit the earth, the first man-made object to orbit the sun, the first man-made object on...

The Utter Uselessness of the Petraeus Report

If you think the White House-penned report on Iraq will be anything other than a validation of "the surge" and the Bush administration's larger strategy, you haven't been paying attention.

President Bush meets with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the incoming Commander of Multi-National Force, on Jan. 26, 2007 in the Oval Office of the White House. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Just a few weeks from now, the most eagerly anticipated premier of the year will finally be here, complete with fierce disagreement among the critics and relentless hype by the producers, cameras furiously clicking when the starring players emerge in public. That premier is the report coming in mid-September from U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and, more importantly, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of American forces there. If you're expecting a surprise ending, you shouldn't hold your breath. But it isn't just the report itself that is utterly predictable. The script for what will come afterward is a sure thing, too. Unfortunately for President Bush, the public is approaching Petraeus's report with a healthy degree of skepticism. A CNN poll last week asked respondents this question: "As you may know, in September the top U.S. commander in Iraq will report to the President and Congress about how the war is going. Do you trust him to report what's really going on in Iraq without...


LIFTING THE VEIL. Lots of people are talking today about whether Karl Rove is attacking Hillary Clinton in order to boost Clinton's chances to become the Democratic nominee, on the assumption that she is the most beatable candidate. What's unusual about this is that some in the press (see the Los Angeles Times ) are trying to discern Rove's motives by contemplating the idea that he might be attempting to get them to write a particular story, as opposed to just taking his words at face value. Back when Rove was considered a political genius, the press was much more likely to examine his words for their inherent wisdom and brilliance. Consider July 4, 2003, when during an appearance at an Independence Day parade, Rove made a big show, in front of reporters, of letting it be known that Howard Dean was the candidate Republicans saw as the weakest in the general election. Here's how the Washington Post reported it: Rove Spends the Fourth Rousing Support for Dean By Juliet Eilperin July 5,...


NICE COUNTRY YOU'VE GOT HERE. IT'D BE A SHAME IF SOMETHING HAPPENED TO IT. Via Greg Sargent , we get the latest sample of Rudy Giuliani 's singular charm: Answering questions at a town-hall meeting, Giuliani was asked why he should expect loyalty from GOP voters when his children aren't backing him. "I love my family very, very much and will do anything for them. There are complexities in every family in America," Giuliani said calmly and quietly. "The best thing I can say is kind of, 'leave my family alone, just like I'll leave your family alone.'" Is it just me, or does that sound like a thinly-veiled threat? If I were that voter, I'd invest in an alarm system for my house. Eight years ago, we were told that what was really important to voters was which candidate they'd rather share a beer with. The thing about Giuliani is that, simply put, the guy's a jerk. Not even his own supporters, I suspect, would seriously disagree with this point. In New York, he got elected because he...

GOP Candidates Alienate Latino Voters

Republicans, who just a few short years ago were trying to court Latino voters, will come to regret the anti- immigration one-upmanship they've exhibited in the primary campaign.

"The spotlight is on Iowa," said the Spanish-language radio ad for a Republican presidential candidate, "and for the first time it's shining on the Latino community." Though Latinos made up only a sliver of the Iowa population (and a microscopic portion of those who would be voting in the Republican caucus), the candidate was sending a signal to the country as a whole. He wanted Latino votes, and he wanted everyone to know it. That candidate, you will be unsurprised to learn, is not one of those running for the GOP nomination in 2008. It was George W. Bush, who aired those spots as part of his first primary campaign ad buy in the fall of 1999. Bush and his advisors didn't forget about the importance of the Latino vote once they took office. In January 2001, Karl Rove told reporters that increasing the GOP share of the Latino vote was "our mission and our goal," one that would "require all of us in every way and every day working to get that done." If they could succeed, one vital...