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 Party of No Ideas

The quest for the GOP presidential nomination has been remarkable in its utter lack of substance, even by the low standards of political campaigns. What accounts for the vacuousness?

Two years ago, in a much-discussed cover article for The New Republic called "The Case Against New Ideas," Jonathan Chait argued that Democrats should resist the pleas of pundits to look for their political salvation in new plans and visions. But as the 2008 race gathers speed, it appears to be the Republicans who have abandoned ideas -- new or otherwise -- in a quest for the GOP nomination that has been remarkable in its utter lack of substance, even by the standards of contemporary campaigns. Think about it this way: Can you think of a single substantive proposal consisting of more than a sentence or two that any of the GOP candidates has made on the campaign trail? I'm not even talking about some lengthy policy paper or plan for overhauling a major sector of government. But any idea to do something, anything, differently than the Bush administration has? The closest one can come is the immigration bill that Congress is debating, of which John McCain is a co-sponsor. But one gets...


MARCHING LEFT. Michael Kinsley notes something that has been apparent for some time: On no issue is history moving faster than on "gay rights"--an already antiquated term for full and equal participation and acceptance of gay men and women in American life. The work is not finished, of course, but what took black Americans more than a century, gays have accomplished in two or three decades (thanks in no small part to blacks, who designed the template for this kind of social revolution). We still argue about it, but the whole spectrum of debate has moved left. A right-wing thug like Tom DeLay or Newt Gingrich probably has more advanced views about homosexuals than dainty liberals of the past century like Adlai Stevenson or Hubert Humphrey . And whatever the actual views, public expressions of overt homophobia are now unacceptable from any national politician. Kinsley is right that the speed with which the debate on gay rights has shifted to the left is simply incredible. Think about...

Religion and the Threat Effect

Research shows that the more secularists there are living near evangelicals, the more politically conservative those evangelicals will be.

Let's say you're a progressive who isn't religious, and you aren't afraid to say so. You've long since cast off the beliefs your parents held, and you never find yourself in a house of worship unless someone you care about is getting married or getting buried. You move to a new town and find that, as in many places, most of your neighbors are churchgoing folk. When one of these neighbors asks you what church you and your family belong to, you say without hesitation, "We don't belong to a church – we're not believers." Before you know it, everyone on the block has heard about you and your brood of apostates. Just what effect are you and your family going to have on your neighbors? A new awakening, in which passionate but respectful discussion leads everyone to examine their own beliefs and find new shades of grey they didn't think about before? When election day rolls around, will your neighbors give more consideration to those Democrats you keep talking about? Maybe not. In an...


SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN! Since no one else here at TAPPED has discussed the fact that in Iraq we are now arming Sunni militias if they agree to help us fight al-Qaeda, I'll go ahead and say it: Given our highly nuanced understanding of all the individuals and groups competing for advantage in Iraq; and given the relatively uncomplicated ethnic, political, and security situation there; and given this administration's excellent track record on predicting the outcome of events; and given how small the possibility is that a move like this might have unintended consequences... Why the heck not? After all, what could possibly go wrong? On the other hand, CNN just told me that we're not giving them our really top-of-the-line weaponry, just run-of-the-mill guns and stuff. So that should ease your worries. -- Paul Waldman


A DEFICIT OF UNDERSTANDING. The Boston Globe has an article today detailing just how either disingenuous or frighteningly clueless (or some of both) the Republican candidates are on the subject of Iraq and terrorism: In defending the Iraq war, leading Republican presidential contenders are increasingly echoing words and phrases used by President Bush in the run-up to the war that reinforce the misleading impression that Iraq was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In the May 15 Republican debate in South Carolina, Senator John McCain of Arizona suggested that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden would "follow us home" from Iraq -- a comment some viewers may have taken to mean that bin Laden was in Iraq, which he is not. Former New York mayor Rudolph Guiliani asserted, in response to a question about Iraq, that "these people want to follow us here and they have followed us here. Fort Dix happened a week ago. " However, none of the six people arrested for allegedly plotting to...