June 30th, 2009
10:35 AM ET
June 30th, 2009
10:31 AM ET
June 30th, 2009
10:29 AM ET

Polls don't make a president

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/06/29/obama.gay.pride/art.obama.gays.gi.jpg caption="President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama entertain Monday in the White House's East Room."]

Julian E. Zelizer
Special to CNN

PRINCETON, New Jersey (CNN) - President Obama continues to enjoy high approval ratings.

Despite spending months navigating through one of the most treacherous economic crises in recent history and struggling with a Congress that is as partisan as ever, the latest CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, released Monday, found that his approval rating stands at 61 percent.

But approval ratings have rarely been a good predictor of presidential success. Some presidents have exited Washington with the public loving them but without the legislative record of success they wanted. At other times, presidents have watched their high approval ratings plummet within weeks.

John F. Kennedy had a tough time with Congress. Kennedy's approval ratings could not have been better, hovering somewhere between 70 to 75 percent for much of his time in the White House (climbing as high as 83 percent). But a conservative coalition of southern Democrats and Republicans allied to defeat most of the president's domestic agenda, including Medicare, income-tax cuts, and civil rights.

President Bill Clinton saw his approval ratings rise to 68 percent at the exact time when congressional Republicans were trying to impeach him in 1998.

Yet in some ways Republicans got the last laugh, because Clinton could barely move anything through the House and Senate in his final years as president.

Keep reading...

Filed under: 360° Radar • Raw Politics
June 30th, 2009
10:09 AM ET
June 30th, 2009
08:41 AM ET

Dear President Obama #162: Meanwhile, back at the war...

Reporter's Note: President Obama says Americans should send suggestions to him on how to run the country. With the 4th of July looming, I can’t help but turn my thoughts that direction as I continue my quest to send a letter a day to Pennsylvania Avenue.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/28/iraq.iran.odierno/art.iraq.troop.pullout.gi.jpg caption="Except for soldiers in advisory roles, all U.S. combat troops will leave Iraqi cities and towns by June 30."]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

As you promised, our troops are now leaving the cities in Iraq, turning them back over to the control of the Iraqi people who have (look out, here comes the King of Understatement) been through a pretty good bit. From what I’ve seen there are plenty of folks celebrating over there, and plenty worrying about what comes next too. Heaven only knows how many fall into each of those camps, but I’m sure it is an exciting time.

I mention it primarily because it would be far too easy not to.

Big, uncomfortable subjects, like wars, often have a short shelf life in the media. When the fighting is hot, and the political blowback is blazing, it’s all over the front pages, leading every newscast, and roaring through the Internet. But when it gets old, and grindy, and less exciting, everyone turns to other things. I think my industry is wrong to treat it that way, and I’ve argued against it for years.

On the other hand, I see some of the same problems with your political pals. When an issue gets them in the news, they’re all wrapped up in it. As long as they can blame their opponents, blame the bad guys, blame the Democrats, blame the Republicans, blame it on Rio, they’re ready to rumble. But when it gets down to the hard, dirty work of solving deeply entrenched, difficult problems…suddenly Henny Penny is working alone.


June 30th, 2009
07:00 AM ET

Sound Off: Your comments 6/29/09

Editor's Note: Monday night’s AC360° feedback primarily focused on the Michael Jackson coverage. Several viewers commented on Michael Jackson’s father, Joe Jackson, and his involvement with Michael’s estate and children. Viewers were also vocal about the amount of coverage Michael Jackson has received, requesting more coverage of Iraq, Iran, and Honduras. Read below some of what we heard from AC360° viewers, then tell us what you think:


I understand people are questioning Joe Jackson promoting his DVD business, but what I can also understand is that someone who has had the responsibility of raising 9 children like he had more in likely pushes a person to constantly be thinking of ways and to be creative to find ways to bring in income for his family. I think the responsibility he had with all these children has shaped this way into thinking that he's always got to be pushing and finding ways to support his family and mentioning his DVD business was just natural for him to keep moving, keep supporting his family. I admire his work ethic and his business sense in order to support his family; I don't see anything wrong with what he did. I don't think one moment this meant he doesn't love his son. He mentioned he is a very strong man and I'm sure when he did this he had his whole family at heart, trying to bring in money to continue supporting them.

Every news person can see that Joe Jackson is an ignorant buffoon. This man should be arrested, he fathered children who were talented and he used that to support this family. He should not have been at that awards show last night, he keeps mentioning that Michael was a super star, not a word of sorrow for having just lost his son to a questionable death. He could care less about Michael's children; it's all about the money. This whole family is unbalanced, Janet, on last evening feigning sorrow at the awards ceremony, not a tear.


Filed under: Behind The Scenes
June 29th, 2009
09:43 PM ET

Live blog from the anchor desk 6/29/09

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/liveblogfinal.copy.jpg]

Tonight we’re following all the new developments in the Michael Jackson story.

A second autopsy was performed today at the Jackson family’s request. They are waiting for the results before finalizing funeral arrangements. While the pop star’s funeral is on hold, a host of legal issues and battles are already emerging.

Want to know what else we're covering tonight? Read EVENING BUZZ

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)

And take a look at our live web camera from the 360° studio. Watch the WEBCAM

Filed under: Live Blog • T1
June 29th, 2009
07:16 PM ET

In Iran, what now?

Editor’s Note: Saying it had completed an investigation into alleged voter irregularities, Iran's election authority on Monday stood by its findings that gave hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an overwhelming victory and sparked more than two weeks of chaos in the streets.

There was "no tangible irregularity," Guardian Council spokesman Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei told government-run Press TV after reporting that a recount of some 10 percent of the votes found no significant differences. "After this, the file will be closed and from today on in the presidential election, the file has been closed."

Meanwhile, today Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  called the death of Neda Agha-Soltan "suspicious" and urged the country's authorities to identify those responsible for it, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported Monday. What now? We spoke with CNN's Reza Sayah, at CNN's Iran Desk in Atlanta.

Reza Sayah | BIO
CNN International Correspondent

1. Iran's electoral oversight group, the Guardian Council, announced today that it confirmed the election results. What now? Does opposition leader Moussavi have any recourse?

Sayah: Moussavi doesn't have any legal recourse. People will be interested to see what he does. The best he can hope for at this point is behind the scenes, lining up religious senior clerics to establish coalitions. Bottom line, the military is behind Ahmadinejad. He really doesn’t have any more options.

2.  Security forces reportedly flooded the streets after that announcement on the election results came out. Is there a sense that the heavy-handed tactics are really working for the Iranian government?

Sayah: Security forces were out in full force today, everywhere. They've been the key to this. Whenever you have a conflict like this, security forces really play the key and they’re malleable. If they see more favorable interests in the powers that be, they'll side with them, in this case Ahmadinejad. If the military sees a better play with opposition, they'll head to them.

For most Iranians, in the short run, this aggressive crackdown has snuffed out these protests. In the long run, will it demoralize them, or will this crackdown further radicalize the opposition for the long run? Time till tell.

3. A woman killed in a protest a week and a half ago named Neda has very much become the face of this struggle. Today President Ahmadinejad called her death “suspicious” and requested an investigation. Will that quell any of the uproar over her death?

Sayah: Probably not. They won't be satisfied with his explanation. Government officials have offered 3 different sets of explanation for her death at this point: the CIA, protestors themselves and banned terrorist groups. People are convinced that it was members of the Basij. President Ahmadinjad had this to say in regards to Neda: "The massive propaganda of the foreign media, as well as other evidence, proves the interference of the enemies of the Iranian nation who want to take political advantage and darken the pure face of the Islamic Republic.

June 29th, 2009
07:06 PM ET
June 29th, 2009
06:40 PM ET

Sotomayor reversal not a first

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Lucas A. Powe Jr.
Special to CNN

Monday, in the much anticipated New Haven, Connecticut, firefighters' case, the Supreme Court reversed an opinion joined by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's Supreme Court nominee.

The reversal was expected and is not the first time an appointee has been reversed by the court he was about to join.

Indeed, two of Chief Justice Warren Burger's opinions for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals were reversed in 1969, the year he joined the court. One was Watts v. United States, in which the defendant had been convicted for threatening the life of the president.

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