Program Note: Tune in tonight to for full coverage of the day's events on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.
AC360° Senior Producer
Is Sen. Arlen Specter finding himself philosophically under the Democratic tent, or at least outside the GOP tent, as he says in his announcement today about his decision to switch parties? Or, after representing the people of Pennsylvania as a Republican senator for 29 years, is he sticking it to the GOP for allowing another tough primary challenge from within the party.. Or, as he trails in a primary race, is he trying to save his Senate career? Or all of that and more...
If Al Franken finally takes the Senate seat in Minnesota, free of court challenges, he and Specter could give the Democrats a filibuster-proof 60 seats in the Senate. That would mark a major political shift for this country... and, perhaps, a 3a.m.-style wake-up call for the no-to-stimulus-leaning GOP.
Then there's that swine flu, now infecting at least 79 people in six countries, including five U.S. states. Different story, right? Yes, but there's a common thread.
The economic stimulus bill had included $780 to fund preparations to fund a pandemic, but moderate GOP senators, including Specter, criticized the provision, mainly saying it wouldn't be the job generator that the stimulus bill was designed to be.
Well, without a vaccine for this strain of flu, and questions about whether our stockpiles of Tamiflu could protect us in a real pandemic, the swine flu is a wake-up call - for all of us.
But will we wake up - and mobilize to take care of our domestic needs, or will we resort to political squabbling? Perhaps a clue: we're at war, but this ain't World War II.
Pop quiz: How many of America's bridges - federal engineers say 77 thousand of them are "structurally deficient" and need repair - have been fixed since the Minneapolis bridge collapsed nearly two years ago? Do you remember how the death of 13 people and injury of 140 more that day, and the horror of dozens of cars plunging into the Mississippi River, was termed a wake-up call to a different kind of homeland security threat?
Or how about this one: How many people were kidnapped in Phoenix last year? Yes, another sudden lane change. But again there's a connection.
The answer: 366 kidnappings in Phoenix in 2008, most allegedly linked to Mexican drug cartels. Do you think the fact that more than one person a day was kidnapped from Phoenix is a wake-up call about our drug problem - and the reach of Mexican cartels into our own country?
Turns out we've been getting a few 3 a.m. wake-up calls lately. How many times do you think we'll hit the great American snooze button?
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with