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

Trapped in the Political Closet

Larry Craig may have been guilty of hiding his sexuality, but the demands of public life lead more than a few politicians to carve out a hidden self.

What must have gone through Larry Craig’s mind that day in June, when he looked down to the bottom of the wall separating his stall from the next, expecting to see a reciprocation of his signaled desire, and instead saw that policeman’s badge? “I can get out of this,” he may have said to himself. Or perhaps, “So this is where it ends, finally.” Of course, we can’t say for sure that Craig was in that restroom hoping to get some action, or if he was the victim of one of the most extraordinary coincidences in the history of western civilization. But whatever lies in the recesses of Craig’s heart, he probably didn’t expect the ferocious speed with which his Republican colleagues would toss him off, shaking frantically to rid themselves of the scent of what many of them no doubt regard as perversion. In a matter of days, a career of decades came to an abrupt end as millions learned of Craig’s intimate secrets both shocking and...

A Guide to Media Manipulation, Republican Style

In recent years the GOP has turned the technique of making hay from their opponents' words into a reliable formula for success -- with a few distortions and a little help from the media, of course.

After he lost the 2004 presidential election, it looked as though, like many who had been in his position before -- Adlai Stevenson, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey -- John Kerry might take one more shot at reaching the Oval Office four years after falling short. But then on Monday, October 30, 2006, the local NBC affiliate in Los Angeles aired a story on Kerry's appearance that day at a campaign event. The story included a clip of Kerry delivering what quickly came to be known as the "botched joke," in which what was intended as a dig at President Bush's history as an inattentive student and all-around nincompoop came out sounding like an allegation that American troops are uneducated. One hour later, a popular conservative talk show host in Los Angeles played the clip on his show, complete with the absurd yet predictable allegation that Kerry was intentionally maligning America's brave troops. At 2:34 a.m. Eastern time the next morning, a link to the clip appeared on the Drudge...


WHY NOT GO ALL THE WAY? Barack Obama is getting some flak from his opponents for coming out in favor of some mild alterations in the Cuba embargo. So my question is, why not go all the way and advocate ending the embargo completely? But we can't annoy those Cuban-American voters, can we? Gotta prove we're tough on Castro ! The collective cowardice from both parties on this issue is truly stunning. If there was ever a policy that we can all agree has been a complete failure, it's this one. Anyone who thinks that after 45 years, if we just hold out a little longer we'll crush Fidel's will, has to be insane. And the only voters who care so much about this that they'll vote against anyone who opposes the embargo are aging Cuban exiles who are utterly devoted to the Republican Party anyway. Here's a golden opportunity for Obama to show that new thinking he keeps telling us about. What if he said this: "After 45 years, we know the embargo is not working. My opponents are too afraid of...


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...