October 20th, 2008
03:14 PM ET

It's not easy being blue

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/20/art.obamasigns.jpg]
Jon Meacham

It is easy—for some, even tempting—to detect the dawn of a new progressive era in the autumn of Barack Obama's campaign for the presidency. Eight years of Republican rule have produced two seemingly endless wars, an economy in recession, a giant federal intervention in the financial sector and a nearly universal feeling of unease in the country (86 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with how things are going, and 73 percent disapprove of the president's performance). Obama—a man who has yet to complete his fourth year in the United States Senate—is leading John McCain, and Democrats may gain seats on Capitol Hill. In 2007, the Pew Research Center published a 112-page report subtitled "Political Landscape More Favorable to Democrats," and the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 55 percent believe Obama's views are neither too liberal nor too conservative but are "about right."

But history, as John Adams once said of facts, is a stubborn thing, and it tells us that Democratic presidents from FDR to JFK to LBJ to Carter to Clinton usually wind up moving farther right than they thought they ever would, or they pay for their continued liberalism at the polls. Should Obama win, he will have to govern a nation that is more instinctively conservative than it is liberal—a perennial reality that past Democratic presidents have ignored at their peril. A party founded by Andrew Jackson on the principle that "the majority is to govern" has long found itself flummoxed by the failure of that majority to see the virtues of the Democrats and the vices of the Republicans.

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Filed under: Barack Obama • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 20th, 2008
03:12 PM ET

Commentary: Buffett's career a battle of greed vs. principles

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/10/17/schroeder.buffett/art.schroeder.toler.jpg caption="Alice Schroeder says investor Warren Buffett has become a symbol of stability in American business."]

(CNN) Since the start of the financial crisis, the world's wealthiest man, investor Warren Buffett, has been front and center.

He's advised Sen. Barack Obama on economic policy. He urged Congress to pass the $700 billion bailout bill. He bought stakes in Goldman Sachs and General Electric.

He wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times saying he's buying stock in American companies now because he believes they will do well in the long run, citing as his rule: "Be greedy when others are fearful."

Buffett's name came up in the second presidential debate when the candidates agreed he'd be a good choice for treasury secretary. His fortune was estimated at $62 billion by Forbes in March.

Alice Schroeder got Buffett's cooperation in writing her new book, "The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life" (Bantam Books). Schroeder, who worked on Wall Street as an insurance industry analyst, met Buffett 10 years ago when his company, Berkshire Hathaway, bought a big insurance company.

Schroeder says she suggested he write a book about his life, and the 78-year-old Buffett turned the tables, urging her to do it instead. Schroeder estimates she spent about 2,000 hours with Buffett and interviewed 250 people for the book. Now on a tour to promote her book, Schroeder is in a unique position to speak about Buffett at a time when many media outlets are seeking his views.

"I have about 300 hours of recorded interviews and the rest of the time I observed him, I watched him make decisions and talk on the phone, went through files. I got to sit in his office for weeks, I ate steaks with him," says Schroeder, who's 51. "If it ever said moo, he'll pretty much eat it. He likes his steaks bloody rare and hanging off the plate, they're so big."


Filed under: Raw Politics
October 20th, 2008
01:17 PM ET

The Shot: Bridge jumping

Daredevils parachute off an 85 story bridge in West Virginia.

Filed under: T1 • The Shot
October 20th, 2008
01:09 PM ET

For just 50 cents more you can get a jumbo popcorn

Jack Gray
AC360 Associate Producer

So I guess my poker game with John McCain and Colin Powell is canceled for tonight. Maybe Sarah “Don’t ya think I had good hip-hop rhythm on Saturday Night Live? By the way, Barack Obama is a Socialist,” Palin can fill in.

Speaking of Colin Powell, I saw Oliver Stone’s “W.” yesterday. I won’t get into what I thought of it because I think movie reviews are rather pointless. Why should anyone care what anyone else thinks of a movie? Unless it’s Pat Sajak, whom I consider to be my life coach.

I will say, though, that Richard Dreyfuss was born to play Dick Cheney. His performance made me think of what “Jaws” would have been like had Dreyfuss given his character a Cheney-esque edge. I guess he probably would have waterboarded the shark.

And, of course, I always pick the wrong line at the movie theater snack counter. I inevitably end up behind the guy who hems and haws about whether he should upgrade to the jumbo Dr. Pepper. Just before I become apoplectic he decides that, yes, the bigger-sized soda will be more useful in washing down his four boxes of Cookie Dough Balls.

So, another week of presidential politics is upon us. Let me guess – one candidate wants you to put your “Country First” while the other candidate would like to talk to you about “Change We Can Believe In.” Excuse me while I down a handful of Tums.

But at least we’re getting closer to Election Day. Two weeks from tomorrow. In New York you don’t even need to look at a calendar, you can tell just by the colder weather. The guy who holds up that “Write-in Paris Hilton for President” sign in Union Square has started wearing a wool hat.

Lately I’ve been keeping my eyes and ears open on the subway, trying to figure out who is voting for whom - a kind of unscientific poll. Unfortunately, all I’ve learned for sure is that velour running suits and gold dollar-sign necklaces are a popular combination among the passengers who like to cough on my neck.

Speaking of dollar signs, did you hear that Barack Obama raised $150 million in September? Or, as Guy Ritchie calls it, just another day at divorce court.

Finally, a quick thanks to those of you who have been leaving such nice comments about my blog posts: I enjoy reading your feedback and appreciate your kind words. Though, I’m told I won’t be considered a success until someone sends me a cake decorated with a likeness of my face.

In the meantime, pass the Cookie Dough Balls.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Jack Gray
October 20th, 2008
11:12 AM ET

Joe the Plumber vs. Colin Powell

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/20/colin.powell.obama.jpg caption="Former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president on Sunday." width=292 height=320]Ed Rollins
AC360° Contributor
GOP Strategist, Former Huckabee National Campaign Chairman

In the last presidential debate, Joe the Plumber took the place of Gen. David Petraeus as John McCain's favorite "my friend."

The previously obscure Joe was mentioned 21 times in the debate, and he and folks like him are the people McCain says he's going to fight for during the rest of the campaign.

The McCain campaign is hoping the issues of taxes and fighting for the little guy can give McCain what the debate did not. He didn't supply the knockout debate performance he needed. He threw some heavy punches, but few landed, and he didn't follow up effectively.

Barack Obama was like the fleet-footed boxer who jabbed and moved deftly and avoided any damage on his march to victory. Though it was McCain's best debate performance, it wasn't enough to make the case that Obama is dangerously inexperienced and untested.

His case was further damaged when President Bush's former secretary of state, Colin Powell, endorsed Obama on Sunday.

We all know Colin Powell. In addition to his work in the Bush administration, Powell is a retired four-star general, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former White House national security adviser.

He has been one of America's most significant military leaders, and a statesman widely admired across the political spectrum over the last two decades - a man many thought could have been America's first black president.


Editor's Note: Ed Rollins, who served as political director for President Reagan, is a Republican strategist who was national chairman of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's 2008 presidential campaign.

Filed under: Barack Obama • Colin Powell • Ed Rollins • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 20th, 2008
09:33 AM ET

My Haiti underwater

Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean and actor Matt Damon distribute food to flood victims after four tropical storms hit the area in Gonaives, Haiti, Sunday, Sept. 14.
Haitian-born singer Wyclef Jean and actor Matt Damon distribute food to flood victims after four tropical storms hit the area in Gonaives, Haiti, Sunday, Sept. 14.

Edittor's Note: Yéle Haiti is a movement led by Wyclef Jean that is helping to bring hope back to Haiti. Projects are designed to make a difference in the fields of education, health, environment and community development. The power and reach of music, sports and the media is used to increase the impact of these project

Wyclef Jean
Yéle Haiti Foundation

I was born in a village called LaSerre. LaSerre is a village in a region called Croix-des-Bouquets, just a few miles east of Port-au-Prince. LaSerre might as well be 100 miles away from Haiti’s largest city. It is a very small rural village that still does not have a paved road.

I have returned to that village many times over the past few years. I have a lot of dreams of what we can do to make sure that other children like me can get the opportunities that I did. I would have had them, had my father not had vision. Not gone against the odds, not taken risks, and not believed.

In August of this year, four hurricanes hit the island of Haiti in less than two weeks time. I was traveling on tour when this occurred, similar to when Hurricane Jeanne hit Haiti in 2004. Then I was in Paris touring with the Fugees and what was happening in my homeland just took me completely out of myself. It was very difficult to continue on. FULL POST

Filed under: Global 360° • Haiti • T1 • TV • Weather • Wyclef Jean
October 20th, 2008
08:30 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Transformational Figure or Socialist?

Penny Manis
AC360 Senior Producer

Barack Obama probably woke up pretty chipper this morning. His campaign announced a record shattering fund-raising total for September of $150 million. He had huge turnouts at his events this weekend, police estimated a crowd of 100,000 in St. Louis, and 75,000 in Kansas City. And he got an endorsement from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican and a longtime friend of John McCain. Powell said that Obama is a “transformational figure”, and that it wasn’t easy to disappoint McCain, but he expressed concern over his friend’s handling of the financial crisis and his choice of Sarah Palin as VP.

Speaking of Sarah Palin, she didn’t have a bad weekend herself as she made an appearance on Saturday Night Live which drew its highest ratings in 14 years. What did you guys think of her skits? Well in between her SNL participation, she didn’t peel from the campaign trail too long, as she joined McCain in stepping up efforts to suggest Obama’s tax policy borders on socialism. McCain used the word in his Saturday radio address, and he also said that Obama is “more interested who gets your piece of the pie than in growing the pie.” Palin also used the S-word this weekend, and there have been “Obama is a socialist” signs at both their rallies in recent days.

We’re sure to hear more back and forth along these lines today. Obama campaigns in Florida where early voting begins, and he teams up with Hillary Clinton early evening. It is rare we see them both on the trail campaigning together. McCain campaigns in Missouri and Kansas City today. Candy Crowley will give us the latest.

Ed Henry follows Palin today in Colorado. He will look at some of the prominent conservative voices that have turned against Palin, yet she does continue to generate buzz and draw crowds to her events. Is she helping or hurting the campaign 15 days ahead of the Election? Joe Biden has no public events today but his medical records are released this afternoon.

On the financial front, most markets were up overnight, so we’ll see how they fare on our side of the pond. Meanwhile, Fed Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke appears before the House Budget Committee to testify on the state of the economy. Ali Velshi will bring us the latest tonight. We also continue our Most Wanted: Culprits of the Collapse series. Who it is may surprise you.

See you tonight!

Filed under: The Buzz
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