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

Trump Takes Dividing the Nation to a New Level

Alex Brandon/AP Photo
Alex Brandon/AP Photo President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House. As elusive as bipartisanship might be, politicians in both parties will tell you that national unity is something we should always strive for. Particularly in a country with as much diversity as we have — not to mention one that fought a civil war — division is always a threat and a potential hindrance. Those moments when the country seemed to think and act as one, like World War II, offer lessons in what we can accomplish when we are unified. Which is why so many presidential candidates like to paint a picture of the unified future they can bring about, no matter how many of their predecessors failed at the attempt. Barack Obama said he wanted to unify the country, as did George W. Bush, as did Bill Clinton. There are complex reasons why none of them could, but we still want presidents to keep alive the hope that it might be possible. We certainly want them not to try to make our divisions...

Can the Next Democratic Presidency Be Truly Transformative?

In 2008, speaking to the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal , Barack Obama made his ambitions clear. "Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America, in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not," Obama said . "He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it." At the time, you may recall, Obama's primary opponent Hillary Clinton and some other Democrats were outraged, for both the jab at Bill Clinton and the seeming compliment to Reagan. But Obama was absolutely right. No serious person would argue that the Clinton's presidency was as transformative as Reagan's had been, whatever the former's accomplishments. And unfortunately, for all his charisma, political skill, and thoughtful policy work, Obama too failed to change the trajectory of the country in the way he had hoped. In so many ways, the place we're at now is that not that different from where we were in 2008, whether it's in our political divides, the...

Joe Biden Is a Link to the Past -- and Not In a Good Way

Joe Biden is, in so many ways, a man from a Democratic Party of another time. Yet as he inches closer to a campaign to lead the Democratic Party of 2020, he is suddenly finding himself being asked questions that had lay dormant while he served ably as Barack Obama's vice president for eight years, questions that get right to the heart of what his party stands for. In most of the polls that have been taken of primary voters, Biden comes in first with around a quarter of the vote, in no small part because he is far more familiar than the other candidates (with the possible exception of Bernie Sanders). But like all the other candidates, his long record in office is being reexamined, particularly those parts that look much more problematic from the perspective of 2019 than they did even in 2008. There's his role in writing the harsh 1994 crime bill, his advocacy for banks and credit card companies, his denunciations of busing in the 1970s. And there's the confirmation hearings for...

The Russia Scandal Is Still One of the Worst in American Political History

Before anyone outside of a few Justice Department officials knew what is contained in Robert Mueller's final report about his investigation into the Russia scandal, Republicans were weirdly gleeful. Apparently based on the sole fact that Mueller will not be handing down any more indictments, they were ready to declare Donald Trump completely vindicated, his rock-solid integrity only validated by Mueller's conclusions. As of this writing, we only have Attorney General William Barr's four-page summary of Mueller's findings, the gist of which is that while Russian mounted a comprehensive effort to get Donald Trump elected president, there is not evidence of a criminal conspiracy on the part of Trump or his associates to aid in that effort. As for obstruction of justice, the report does apparently go into detail about actions Trump undertook, but remains agnostic on what they add up to. "While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime," Barr quotes Mueller as...

Beto O'Rourke and the Unity Problem

Just six months ago, Beto O'Rourke was basking in the love of Democrats from across America as he ran for Senate. Videos of him answering questions and giving speeches went viral, he built an enormous grassroots organizing machine, and hopeful supporters showered him with a mind-boggling $79 million in contributions . Even though he lost that race, his thoughts inevitably turned to the White House. And why not? He could run for Texas' other Senate seat, but the result might be the same. People keep comparing him to Barack Obama, who was also 46 when he launched his presidential run in 2007. As Obama demonstrated, if you have talent and good timing, anything is possible. But there's a way in which O'Rourke may be too much like Obama, specifically the Obama of 2008. Because it isn't 2008 anymore. We have to be honest and say that as appealing as O'Rourke is, he doesn't quite deserve the comparison. Obama became a national figure with a speech at the 2004 Democratic convention that was...

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