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 Man Who Liberated the Republican Party

Amid the daily horrors emanating from the White House, one symbolically important one may have missed your notice. Donald Trump recently decided to bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Arthur Laffer, perhaps the single most discredited economist in America. Here’s how the proclamation described him: Arthur B. Laffer, the “Father of Supply-Side Economics,” is one of the most influential economists in American history. He is renowned for his economic theory, the “Laffer Curve,” which establishes the strong incentive effects of lower tax rates that spur investment, production, jobs, wages, economic growth, and tax compliance. That’s basically true, if you define “renowned” as “notorious” and “establishes” as “misleadingly asserts.” But about Laffer’s influence there is no doubt. For his service to the Republican Party, he certainly deserves any award the GOP can offer. Because what he really...

Why 2020 Is Starting to Feel Like 2004

On March 15, 2003, Governor Howard Dean of Vermont, at the time a decidedly second-tier presidential candidate, took the stage at the convention of the California Democratic Party. The first thing he said, to a thunderous cheer, was this: “What I want to know is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the president's unilateral intervention in Iraq.” He then ran through a litany of his party’s failures to stand up to George W. Bush and the GOP, and finished with a rhetorical flourish that instantly made him a serious contender: “I’m Howard Dean, and I’m here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.” While Dean didn’t win the nomination, his candidacy shone a bright light on the way Democrats had become timid and fearful, always worrying that if they were too clear in their criticism of the war or the administration that the public would reject them. More important, he showed how disgusted so many in the...

Nihilist-in-Chief

Last week, the House Intelligence Committee released transcripts of testimony by Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to Donald Trump and current guest of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In it, Cohen describes how one of his tasks as an employee of the future president was to stiff people who had done work for the Trump Organization, on his boss’ personal instruction. “Some of the things that I did was reach out to individuals, whether it's law firms or small businesses, and renegotiate contracts after the job was already done, or basically tell them that we just weren't paying at all, or make them offers of, say, 20 cents on the dollar,” he said. Cohen expressed remorse for his involvement in this combination of scam and strongarming, saying that as a result of Trump’s refusal to pay people who didn’t have the wherewithal to fight a wealthy developer, “many of these folks, you know, lost everything.” That Trump did business this way is not...

We're In an Abortion Emergency. Democrats Need to Act Like It.

As Donald Trump seized control of the Republican Party in 2016, many doubted that the conservative white evangelicals who make up such a key part of the party’s base would rally behind him. Could they put aside their supposed concern for traditional morality and support a con man who cheated on all his many wives and bragged about his ability to commit sexual assault with impunity? The answer, praise be to the heavens, was an enthusiastic yes. What they understood, and some observers didn’t, was that the arrangement was purely transactional: They’d give him their votes, and he’d give them pretty much whatever policies they asked for. And what they wanted more than anything else was judges, from the lowliest district court all the way up to the Supreme Court. Judges who would say it’s OK to discriminate if you do it in the name of a Christian god, judges who would countenance attacks on voting rights or equality, and above all, judges who would be ready to...

Trump’s Fate Is in Democrats’ Hands

In that long period when we were waiting for Robert Mueller to produce his final report on the Russia scandal, many Democrats got caught up in their hopes for both what it would reveal and what the result would be. Once Mueller laid out all the facts about President Trump’s behavior both during and after the election, the truth would be impossible to deny, they believed. Impeachment would become almost an inevitability, and even many of Trump’s supporters would finally realize just how awful this president is. His support would nosedive. Of course, that’s not what happened. The report did indeed lay out all manner of crimes and misdeeds, many of which were committed by the president himself. But Republicans whipped themselves into a frenzy of denial and disinformation, helped enormously by the attorney general Trump installed in his position precisely because he had made clear that he would work to protect the president from all political harm. And in the end, Trump...

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