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

Conservatism Unleashed

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Members of the cabinet applaud during Trump's State of the Union address on January 30, 2018. I n the Netflix science fiction series Altered Carbon , a major plot line involves a ship, hovering thousands of feet above the ground, where the super-rich go to fulfill their most sordid fantasies, involving not just kinky sex but the murder of attractive young women (and the occasional man), the ultimate privilege for a member of the overclass. It's a trope you've probably seen in a dozen films: When a group of people utterly removed from any kind of societal accountability gather to grant license to their desires, those desires turn out to be utterly depraved. Something analagous is happening right now in American politics. The Republican Party, particularly its members in the Trump administration, are engaged in an ideological bacchanal that goes beyond what we imagined would occur when Donald Trump became president. We knew what a disaster he would be as...

Think Republicans Went Bonkers Over the Nunes Memo? Just Wait.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh) House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes with Representative Peter King on October 24, 2017. D id last week make you feel like you were going a little bit crazy? Well buckle up, because it's only going to get worse. Of course, the entire last year has involved careening from one bizarre controversy to the next, to the point where you encounter a headline reading, "The president paid a porn star $130,000 in hush money to keep an affair quiet," and your response is "Sure, that doesn't surprise me." But the controversy around the Nunes memo truly brought us to uncharted levels of lunacy. For weeks, Republicans have been saying the memo, written by Republican staffers on the House Intelligence Committee on behalf of Representative Devin Nunes, would blow the lid off FBI corruption so awful, so horrifying, and so gruesome that those who viewed the document might just bleed from their eyeballs or burst into flame. Before it was released, Republican members of...

The Shutdown Will End, But the Divisions Will Remain

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Demonstrators rally in support of DACA outside the Capitol on January 21, 2018, on the second day of the federal government shutdown. A s I write this column, the federal government is shut down, which may or may not still be the case by the time you read it. If we set aside the trivial question of which party will get political advantage from this ugly confrontation, there are actually some important issues that will remain even after the dispute is resolved and government services are restored. This budget fight has exacerbated the divisions between the two parties on immigration, one of the most profound and emotionally fraught issues we have to deal with. And if the agreement that ends the crisis doesn't resolve some of the core questions, those divisions may only get worse. That's true even though there's an obvious resolution to the crisis. Democrats would grit their teeth and swallow a large amount of funding for Donald Trump's asinine border wall,...

The Russia Scandal Is Looking More Like Watergate All the Time

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci President Donald Trump speaks before signing an executive order in the Oval Office I t was a rather eventful week for President Trump, one that began with the nation debating whether he's mentally unstable and ended with the nation debating whether he's a racist. No reasonable person believes anymore the oft-stated hypothesis that whatever appalling thing he said today is merely a clever misdirection to distract you from some much more serious appalling thing he's up to. It all happens simultaneously, with no plan or strategy driving it forward apart from stupidity, boundless bad faith, and the occasional dollop of panic. And underneath it all is the Russia scandal, like a backbeat to the manic tune being played every day in Washington. While we are often too quick to look for historical analogies, Russia is looking more like Watergate all the time. Unlike our other recent mega-scandals (Lewinsky, Iran-Contra), both Watergate and Russia have their roots in...

A Third-Class Intellect, But a Fourth-Class Temperament

(Rex Features via AP Images)
(Rex Features via AP Images) A fter the 2017 we had, it seems completely appropriate that as 2018 begins, we're arguing about whether Donald Trump is an idiot or a genius. Or perhaps "arguing" is the wrong word. It isn't like there's some kind of grand debate afoot, in which the two parties articulate opposing views, marshall evidence, and work to convince the public that their side is correct. You'd have a hard time finding a Republican not in Trump's direct employ who would say with a straight face that the president is an intelligent man, and with the release of Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House , in which Wolff describes how the White House staff has to work to accommodate the fact that their boss is a simpleton, the president's insecurities have come bursting out yet again. Nobody's going to call him stupid without him hitting back! And so he has, announcing on Twitter that "Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental...