[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/06/palin.resignation/art.palin.gi.jpg caption="John Feehery says Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's resignation is a good sign for the Republican Party."]
Special to CNN
Editor's note: John Feehery was a staffer for former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and other Republicans in Congress. He is president of Feehery Group, a Washington-based advocacy firm that has represented clients including the News Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He formerly was a government relations executive vice president for the Motion Picture Association of America.
It shouldn't have surprised anyone that Gov. Sarah Palin would surprise everyone by announcing that she was quitting her job by the end of July.
Everything about her career has been a surprise.
I remember distinctly when Arizona Sen. John McCain selected Palin to be his vice presidential running mate. It was, to say the least, a surprise.
I had just taken the red-eye from Denver, Colorado (and the Democratic convention), and friends were calling me, concerned that McCain was going to pick Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.
One friend, in particular, was pushing for a little-known governor from Alaska, of all places, who seemed to hit all the right buttons for conservatives. This governor was pro-life, pro-gun and anti-tax, had high popularity ratings in the state, and best of all, she was a woman. The thought was that she could help with that all-important female voting demographic.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/07/palin.resignation/art.palin.interview.cnn.jpg caption="Paul Begala says Gov. Sarah Palin was an impediment to the hard work Republicans need to do to rebuild the party."]
Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House. He is an affiliated professor at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute.
I'm sure Republican strategists look at their bench and think of what Casey Stengel said of the 1962 Mets: "Can't anybody here play this game?"
David Vitter is on the D.C. Madam's call list. John Ensign confesses to an affair with a staffer. Mark Sanford cries for his soul mate in Argentina. And now Sarah Palin calls it quits.
The Republican Party was once a solid, serious, stable group of people. It was the party of Eisenhower, of Ford - and not too long ago, the party of Colin Powell. Now it's got more flakes than Post Toasties.
For all her whining about the ethics complaints brought against her, Sarah Palin is not the victim of the politics of personal destruction. She's the victim of the politics of self destruction.
Preliminary results show Federal Protective Service's ability to protect federal facilities is hampered by weaknesses in its contract security guard program.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/07/07/federal.buildings.security/art.federal.guard.gao.jpg caption="A report cites lax security in federal buildings after investigators got bomb components past guards."]
AC360° Associate Producer
Have you ever wondered why you have to take your shoes off at airports? If you find yourself impatient with the chore – here’s proof that it could be a pretty important security measure. Undercover investigators sent to test security at federal buildings in four U.S. cities were successful in smuggling bomb components through guard posts at all 10 of the sites they visited.
Once inside, they assembled the explosive devices and walked freely into numerous government offices, carrying the devices in briefcases. And get this: one of the federal buildings they entered contained offices for Homeland Security, the department responsible for safeguarding these buildings. How did the investigators fool security and how much are we spending to protect these buildings? We’re digging deeper on this story and will have more details tonight.
President Obama is in Italy today for the G8 Summit, which is being held on the outskirts of L’Aquila, Italy where the devastating earthquake took place in April. Leaders are expected to tackle the economy, global warming and global security.
Chinese President Hu Jintao left the summit early to return to Beijing to deal with ethnic violence in the country’s far-west Xinjiang region, where violent demonstrations over the past few days have last at least 156 people dead. Ed Henry will bring us more tonight.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/19/iran.nuclear.weapon/art.baradei.jpg caption="Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA's director-general, believes Iran wants nuclear weapon technology."]
David Albright and Jacqueline Shire
ISIS Nuclear Iran
ISIS is proud of its work identifying clandestine nuclear programs and proliferation risks around the world and bringing impartial analysis to politically-charged and often technically complex issues. Although no country with a major nuclear program has escaped ISIS’s investigations over the years, we have spent considerable effort on Iran since 2002.
ISIS has carefully chronicled Tehran’s development of the full nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining, to conversion, to a reactor and uranium enrichment. While diplomacy failed to arrest Iran’s progress over the last decade or so, Iran has succeeded in cobbling together an enrichment complex based on gas centrifuges, one with enough capability to produce enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, if the regime decides to do so.
Reporter's Note: Our president, Barack Obama, unlike the Governor of Alaska, I sticking with his job. So I am sticking with mine, writing a letter a day to the White House.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
This would be an excellent day, even as you travel the world, to be grateful for North Dakota. “Grateful for what?” you may ask. Well, there are the obvious things: It produces an enormous sunflower crop. Lawmakers there laudably chose milk as the state drink. And if any of us ever start feeling like our neighborhood is getting too crowded, the Flickertail State offers a lovely alternative to heavy commutes and long lines at the grocery store.
But the main reason you should be thinking well of North Dakota right now is Senator Kent Conrad. He and some other of your fellow Democrats are helping you keep a campaign promise, even if it looks like they are pushing back on one of your plans at the moment.
Just last week, you were selling the idea of squeezing up cash for health care reform, by slapping new taxes on the more elaborate health benefits offered to workers by their employers. Unfortunately, whatever you intended, it sounded like, “If you are lucky enough to have a really good health care plan, now we’re going to make you pay extra for it.” Not exactly an uplifting message during a recession. But more importantly, that plan would almost certainly have lead to higher taxes for some of the middle-classers who you vowed would not face higher taxes if they voted for you.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/07/07/paris.jackson/art.paris.jackson.gi.jpg caption="Paris Jackson, 11, is consoled by her uncle Marlon Jackson after delivering a tearful tribute to her father."]
AC360° Coordinating Editorial Producer
It’s been a long couple of weeks since the moment we learned that Michael Jackson was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest. From the immediate “that can’t be true” thought, to the rush of “what can we confirm,” then to my job: “who can we get?” I feel like I’ve been in Ludacris speed (note Spaceballs reference here!) since June 25.
But as the night nine of my time in Los Angeles and night 13 of our coverage winds down, I am sure the magnitude of the past two weeks will hit me soon.
Yesterday's memorial was more reverent, more respectful, more thoughtful and more appealing than I even thought possible. I knew early on in the planning process who might have been attending and performing, but even knowing who was on the preliminary list did not diminish what was on stage. And although it’s no secret that Michael Jackson was a controversial figure, the bottom line was the man was a great entertainer. It’s also obvious that he touched so many lives throughout his short life.
I spoke to my six-year-old nephew, Jackson, after the memorial. The first thing he asked was if I got to talk to Kobe Bryant. I find that funny because, although my family is a sports loving family, I do not remember ever watching any part of a NBA game with any of them.