October 14th, 2008
03:04 PM ET

McCain's unraveling began with Palin

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/08/art.mccain.palin.jpg]Robert Shrum
The Week

The season of Republican recrimination has dawned. The favorite rationalization for the candidate’s drift toward double digit deficits in the polls seems to be that the smears against Obama came too late and looked too desperate. If only McCain had descended into the mire months ago—things might have been different. There is no evidence, of course, that the old Rovian road, no matter when taken, would have led back to the White House in 2008. In serious times, assaults on Ayers and ACORN seem frivolous; and appeals to fear and intolerance don’t win votes, they merely stoke hate and incite right-wing believers.

New York Times columnist William Kristol, who once recommended war on Obama’s character, now urges McCain to “fire the campaign” that followed Kristol’s advice. But mixed messages are the essence of McCain’s exertions. The candidate suffers grievously from a dual sense—first that he has no credible plan to deal with the economic issues he’s said he doesn’t understand and, second, that he’s not steady, but erratic, irascible, lurching from position to position as he wanders around the stage.

Unmoored from strategic coherence, the candidate and his advisors jump from tactic to tactic searching compulsively for the latest trick. This is the driving force behind the campaign’s biggest mistake: selecting the unvetted, unserious Sarah Palin as a running mate. The hasty turn to Palin was based on a series of off-the-cuff assumptions—that she could attract Hillary voters, appeal to women generally, and substitute for the unacceptably pro-choice Joe Lieberman as a way to restore McCain’s brand as a maverick. The aim of this Hail Mary pass was somehow to switch the playing field from the economy to earmarks.

The calculation was wrong on every count.


Editor's Note: Robert Shrum was the senior adviser to the Gore 2000 presidential campaign, the campaign of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and the British Labour Party, as well as the chief strategist for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign.

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
October 14th, 2008
02:31 PM ET

Palin: In the wink of an eye

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Faye Fiore
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Voters have by now memorized Sarah Palin's string of historic firsts on a Republican presidential ticket: first woman, first hockey mom, first moose dresser. Now it turns out the 44-year-old Alaska governor has injected another groundbreaker into national politics.

She's a winker. She winks on rope lines and at rallies. She winked at least six times at 70 million viewers on the vice presidential debate platform opposite her rival, Sen. Joe Biden, who weighed in on the nonverbal communication scale by grinning like a nutcracker.

But it was the wink that ricocheted like a bullet across America, leaving some voters smitten, some confused and others nauseated.

A honking sound from her armpit might have generated less buzz. That would have been just weird. The wink is ambiguous, one of those rich, laden, intriguing signals of unspoken human messaging that is difficult to decipher but impossible to ignore.

There is not a lot of research on the origins of the wink. Some have suggested a rather gloomy start - from the word "hoodwinked," which may have stemmed from the custom of placing a hood over the heads of those about to be hanged. The Bible warned against it in Proverbs: "Whoever winks the eye, causes trouble."

Read more

Filed under: Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
October 14th, 2008
02:00 PM ET

Body of Evidence

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Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

A group of people, their identities secret, are meeting in Orlando today to decide whether a young mother should be charged with murdering her child.

The woman is of course Casey Anthony. For months, she has dodged media questions while denying any involvement in the disappearance of 3-year-old Caylee Anthony.

Investigators appear all but certain that Caylee was killed, and say they believe Casey may be connected to the death of her daughter.

But if she murdered Caylee, what and where is the evidence?

Enter that secret group of people, a grand jury. The panel will listen to testimony related to the months-long mystery. Prosecutors have a much lower burden of proof than what is required for conviction at a criminal trial. The threshold is probable cause. If 12 of the 15 to 21 members of the grand jury say there is sufficient probable cause that Casey murdered her daughter, an indictment will be issued against her.


Filed under: Caylee Anthony • Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
October 14th, 2008
01:43 PM ET

Culprits of the Collapse – #7 Phil Gramm


So who is to blame for this financial fiasco?
That’s the question we’ve begun investigating.
We’ve put together a list of the Ten Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse.
#7 on our list: Former U.S. Senator Phil Gramm. CNN's Tom Foreman reports

October 14th, 2008
01:24 PM ET

The Shot: Pizza showdown

10 competitive eaters battle it out in Times Square to eat as many slices as they can.

Filed under: T1 • The Shot
October 14th, 2008
12:09 PM ET

Sarah Palin & Joe Biden will now sing the Stevie Nicks-Don Henley classic "Leather and Lace"

Jack Gray
AC360° Associate Producer

I woke up exhausted this morning, as I usually do the day after my semi-annual Columbus Day Cocktail Party. And before you even ask, no, Anderson Cooper was not invited. His entourage is too big – food taster, publicist, tarot card reader – for my tiny apartment and frankly, last time, I was missing some silver.

Anyway, I woke up a bit groggy. I vaguely remember Erica Hill sliding three shot glasses toward me and muttering something about the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. After that it’s a blur.

Upon waking up, I headed out with my dog, treating the residents of Greenwich Village – as I do everyday - to the work of art that is my fresh-from-bed self. One time I was actually stopped and asked if I would be interested in modeling. I was excited until I found out they wanted me to pose for some of the “before” photos in a rehab brochure.


Filed under: Jack Gray • Raw Politics
October 14th, 2008
10:26 AM ET

"Drill Baby Drill" – A whale of a problem

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Editor’s note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle. Ling has been a co-host of The View, correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show, National Geographic and Channel One. She filed this blog from Alaska

Lisa Ling
AC360° Special Correspondent

Arrived in Anchorage, Alaska yesterday. The burning question I had for everyone I encountered was what people really thought of Governor Palin. But since that question is not germane to the reason why I’m here, I shall refrain from writing about what those conversations entailed.

Almost immediately upon arrival, we set off to interview the General Manager of Shell operations in Alaska. He stressed the vital importance of drilling off shore in the Alaskan Arctic, as it is potentially a source that could reduce our reliance upon foreign oil. When I asked him if the result would be a temporary one, he said, “ we can’t know until we’re actually allowed to drill.”


Filed under: Lisa Ling • Planet in Peril
October 14th, 2008
09:47 AM ET

"Schlep" out the vote

CNN's John Zarrella reports young Jews head to Florida in search of grandparents' votes for Obama.
CNN's John Zarrella reports young Jews head to Florida in search of grandparents' votes for Obama.

John Zarrella | BIO
CNN Miami Correspondent

Mike Bender is young, single. He writes for television and movies out in California. I met him last Thursday night when he flew into Miami from Los Angeles. He had made the trip, at his own expense, to talk politics face to face with his Jewish grandparents Selma and Kenny Furst. More precisely, he came to talk Selma and Kenny into voting for Barack Obama. He had to try he said to bridge the “generation gap” between them. Bender had come to Miami in response to a You-Tube challenge called “The Great Schlep”. I’ll get back to Bender and his schlep in a moment.

When I first heard about this schlep thing I thought it must be a spoof. The comic, Sarah Silverman on You-Tube was rallying young Jews to go down to Florida and convince their Grandparents they had to vote for Barack Obama. The bit was called “The Great Schlep.”

Schlep is a Yiddish word that can have a variety of meanings. In this case schlep means to drag yourself. In other words, it may be difficult but, you’ve got to do it.


Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • John Zarrella • Raw Politics
October 14th, 2008
09:46 AM ET

Snapshots from the 'Schlep'

John Zarrella | BIO
CNN Miami Correspondent

Here are some 'snapshots from the Schlep' story I worked on, where young Jews are heading to Florida in search of grandparents' votes for Obama:

"Schlepper” Mike Bender.

Bender makes the case for Obama to a Jewish voter with doubts about the Senator outside the hair salon where Bender’s grandmother works.

Bender talks Obama to his grandmother Selma Furst.

Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • John Zarrella • Raw Politics
October 14th, 2008
08:30 AM ET

Obama and Bush are not so far apart

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Editor's note: Tara Wall, deputy editorial page editor and columnist for The Washington Times, serves as a political contributor to CNN. Before joining the newspaper, she was a senior adviser for the Republican National Committee and was appointed a public affairs director in the Department of Health and Human Services by President Bush. Read her columns here.

Tara Wall
CNN Contributor

Since Barack Obama incessantly makes the case that a John McCain administration would equate to another Bush term, it's worth looking at just how much Sen. Obama himself is in agreement with the unpopular president.

Does that mean that he, too, would be a repeat of President Bush? If one were to apply his logic, maybe so.

Here are 20 reasons why:

1. Abstinence: Bush expanded community-based abstinence education during his term, including a $28 million budget increase for 2009 in an effort to "Teach both abstinence and contraception to teens." Obama concurred in April when he said: "We want to make sure that, even as we are teaching responsible sexuality and we are teaching abstinence to children, that we are also making sure that they've got enough understanding about contraception."

2. Affirmative action: Bush said of the 2003 University of Michigan affirmative action case: "I strongly support diversity of all kinds, including racial diversity in higher education. But the method used by the University of Michigan to achieve this important goal is fundamentally flawed" - because it depended solely on race. Bush has said other factors, such as socioeconomic status, should be considered, which would include poor white students.


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