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December 1st, 2008
11:33 AM ET

Is Obama the man we thought?

Barack Obama nominates Senator Hillary Clinton as US Secretary of State during a press conference on Monday. National security adviser nominee James Jones and  United Nations ambassador nominee Susan Rice look on.

Barack Obama nominates Senator Hillary Clinton as US Secretary of State during a press conference on Monday. National security adviser nominee James Jones and United Nations ambassador nominee Susan Rice look on.

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

Seems everyone is noting that Obama's national security picks are more hawkish than Obama himself. Liberal blogs are fired up, some worried that Obama will go back on his peace-seeking promises. But that seems to assume Obama is a dove...that his opposition to the Iraq War was ideologically driven.

Some excited centrists, however, believe it shows Obama is more pragmatic than ideological... that he opposed the Iraq war because he thought it bad for the country, and he'll decide when and even whether to get out of Iraq based on what's good for the country.. and that he's picking national security talent based on what's good for the country.

This is the man who promised to step UP the war against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, after all... which, these days, seems to mean inside Pakistan, too. Do you think he'll go there, as the Bush Administration has been?

Just as President Bush, after criticizing "nation-building" when he first ran for president, will Obama, the man who noted he was one of very few in the Senate who opposed the Iraq war, turn out to be a war president – of a different stripe?

What do you think...

October 30th, 2008
08:27 PM ET

Is he ahead or behind??

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

The NPOP..known to CNNers as the national poll of polls..today shows Obama 5 points ahead of McCain, versus 7 points on Wednesday.. SO.. if he keeps losing 2 points a day, Obama loses.

But wait! Obama is pulling further ahead in some key Battleground State polls. And that's what matters, right? So that suggests he'll win - big time, if the numbers of people attending Obama rallies and tuning into his half hour commercial mean anything.

Maybe there really is a silent majority of Americans in the "red" states, planning as the McCain camp says, to vote for their man, without talking about it to all those pollsters.

Or maybe the polls are just clues, puzzles pieces, and we just don't know what the big picture really looks like. After all, the primary polls didn't match those vote totals.

So here we all are, like an audience sitting together in the theater at a suspenseful, even scary movie, trying to figure out how this twisted plot will end. We're all struggling to get a handle on what's really going on in this country. And despite watching it closely every day, we have no idea.

As in so many things, the more we know, the less we seem to know. Unless you know something I don't.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Barclay Palmer • John McCain • Raw Politics
October 6th, 2008
02:26 PM ET

The campaign, and the crisis

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

This has NEVER happened before.. A major stock market slide within weeks of a US presidential election.  Even 1929's "Black Tuesday" happened between presidential elections.

We have watched an extraordinarily dramatic presidential race this year, with a woman – a former First Lady and now US senator – drawing 18 million votes in a primary, and a woman – a former beauty queen and mayor, now Alaska's governor – #2 on the GOP ticket.

Well, so what..

That's how some people feel today, along with raw fear as they see the stock market lose more than 5% today, on top of a roughly 25% loss since last October.

The candidates have already been talking economy, economy, economy. But the markets' continued fall around the world, despite the unprecedented US $700 billion bailout and supportive actions by other governments, is creating a sense of crisis that is overtaking basic campaign issues – and talk.

What will be the effect?


Filed under: Barclay Palmer
October 1st, 2008
03:41 PM ET

Congress to the rescue! (Maybe)

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, center, accompanied by House Minority Leader John Boehner, Rep. Eric Cantor, and Rep. Adam Putnam, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, after the House vote on the financial bailout package failed.

House Minority Whip Roy Blunt, center, accompanied by House Minority Leader John Boehner, Rep. Eric Cantor, and Rep. Adam Putnam, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, after the House vote on the financial bailout package failed.

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

The Senate plans to vote on bailout Plan B between 8:30pm and 9pm tonight. A strangely precise schedule for a legislature so confident but so wrong in predicting that it had a bailout package on Monday. Especially since it has a couple other thingy-dingy bills to pass first tonight. If the Senate can function like a Swiss watch today, why can't it every day?

Or can it?

And the House plans to vote on the Senate bill on Friday. That is, if leaders believe they have the votes to pass the bill. If they don't, one of our most esteemed planning managers said, with irony and pith worthy of Ben Franklin,"Times are fungible."


Filed under: 360° Radar • Bailout Turmoil • Barclay Palmer • Economy
September 30th, 2008
01:39 PM ET

Should Congress pass a bail-out plan?

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

The stock market is rebounding, because big investors expect Congress will come back to DC Thursday and pass a bailout bill after all.

But that's what so many were expected over the weekend and right through Monday morning - even President Bush and Congressional leaders!

Monday was a slap-in-the-face reminder that even in the face of a global emergency, Congress just can't agree on most things, other than massive spending, and even then there are some hold-outs.

Or, you could say that this only proves that we really are a democracy - that bail-out opponents in Congress voted against it because they were hearing anger and opposition to it from thousands of their constituents.

FULL POST


Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Barclay Palmer • Raw Politics
September 2nd, 2008
04:29 PM ET

The talk about Sarah Palin

Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, addresses the crowd at a campaign stop in Washington, Pa. Saturday.

Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, addresses the crowd at a campaign stop in Washington, Pa. Saturday.

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

Everyone’s talking about Sarah Palin, even some who say we shouldn’t be.

John McCain’s campaign has decried “smears.” Rudy Giuliani said a reporter should be “ashamed” for asking if Palin’s 17-year-old daughter’s pregnancy would detract from the Republican Convention. Barack Obama and Joe Biden have said candidates’ children are off limits.

Ok, got it.

And yet, given that Jenna Bush’s wedding photos were viewed by millions around the world, and that culture wars have periodically engulfed this country for decades now, with arguments over what exactly constitutes "family values," should we be surprised that people – and the press – are asking about Sarah Palin’s life and decisions, and her daughter’s too?

More to the point – is it all bad? Come on, there's good in it, too.

Sarah Palin’s candidacy has sparked a passionate national dialogue about what’s the right balance of work and motherhood, or simply parenthood. Her story is making us think differently about old arguments over "family values," "personal responsibility," and "good judgment."

"It's the Mommy Wars: Special Campaign Edition," as Jodi Kantor and Rachel Swarns put it so memorably in today's New York Times, "But this time the battle lines are drawn inside out, with social conservatives, usually staunch advocates for stay-at-home motherhood, mostly defending her, while some others, including plenty of working mothers, worry that she is taking on too much."

Yes, these are hot button issues. And some people are understandably upset. But some of the dialogue about work/family balance, teen pregnancy, even the degree to which politicians' familiy lives should be a subject of public discussion, is important.

In the middle of a presidential campaign that will set the nation's direction for the next four years, these are good things for us to be thinking about, and talking about, in a new way.

What's your take?


Filed under: Barclay Palmer • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
August 29th, 2008
07:02 AM ET

Morning Buzz: The Dems' pitch, McCain's VP and Gustav's threat

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

It was an excellent and powerful speech, no question.

Barack Obama was compelling. He gave specifics on what he would do as president. He fired back at John McCain in a way that seemed gracious and fair, but firm.

So did he make a sale... what do you think?

It's a question for all the big Democrats who spoke at the convention this week. Great oration is one thing. Connecting with voters, convincing them on a gut level that you are their candidate, is another thing.

It seems so easy when it works, so natural - and that's one reason it does work: a great salesman makes a simple, personal connection.

FULL POST


Filed under: Barclay Palmer • The Buzz
August 26th, 2008
11:54 AM ET

Convention night, playground fight!

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Monday. Sen. John McCain before his appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Monday.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Monday. Sen. John McCain before his appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Monday.

Barclay Palmer
AC360 Senior Producer

Tonight is Hillary's night–will it work? She'll try to galvanize her supporters to back Obama. Her historic drive for the nomination, and her 18 million votes will be acknowledged in a deal letting her be nominated, and then she herself might call for Obama's nomination by unprecedented acclamation.

Now THAT would be historic. Everyone happy now? Will Hillary supporters stop flirting with McCain, and back the big O?

Separate question-James Carville and others have argued the Dems at this convention are making the same mistake all over again–playing too nice, and not fighting the GOP hard enough.

Yes, Hillary will take'em on tonight, but it's easy to dump the bad cop role on her. You know from all the cops'n'robbers shows - If the good cop never gets tough, the bad guys run circles around him. Witness McCain's appearance on Leno, his newest 3a.m. ad, his expected mockery of Obama at the American Legion convention today.

Mccain is not playing the usual quiet role during an opponent's convention. While Dems understandably get misty over Kennedy and Michelle, McCain is in Obama's face, and tweaking his nose.

The bell has rung. McCain is coming out swinging. Will the Dems stop smiling at the crowd in time, and get fighting?

We'd love your thoughts...Thank you.

August 22nd, 2008
09:30 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Who's the VP?

Barclay Palmer
AC360 Senior Producer

Good morning all!

In a moment that could shape history for decades to come…. Wait, pause button… True, if a butterfly flaps its wings in China, that could change history too, but this could have a much more direct impact… Will Barack Obama name his VP choice today?

That’s the expectation.

Obama has said he wants someone who can help him with the economy, someone “independent… not a yes person” … someone he “can spar with.”

That would be admirable, maybe even helpful.

Is it a real clue, or a red herring?

Any case, it’s hard to imagine a couple of those mentioned as short-listers fulfilling those qualifications. Evan Bayh?

Does it matter who’s chosen? Some say it doesn’t… that candidates win and lose on their own merits… that candidates have won—and lost—despite their VP candidates. Dan Quayle… Al Gore… did they make the difference? Ah, no.

Gore might help a lot this time, now that he’s achieved rock star status among liberals, winning an Oscar, rolling out a vision to save America - and the planet - from greenhouse gasses.

Gore has said he’s not interested. But as John King asked on our air last night, if Obama told him, “I need you, your country needs you, give me four years,” could Gore in good conscience really say no?

We might never find out. Or - Surprise! - we just might.

Thinking through the scenarios, the anticipation and the breaking news are always lots of fun.

And this time, it just might matter.


Filed under: Barclay Palmer • The Buzz
August 21st, 2008
08:49 AM ET

Morning Buzz: Questions for the candidates

Barclay Palmer
AC360° Senior Producer

G’morning folks!!

Barack Obama’s lead in the national polls has slipped from 9% to 1% in CNN’s poll of polls. What's going on?

One Democratic insider calls it “the August curse.”

For several elections in a row, the Democratic presidential candidate has faded in the polls in late summer. Why? Well, they get wonky, they don’t make news, and they get pegged as “liberal elitists.”

Obama is the latest in a series of Democratic candidates who – rather than go in for the kill as Karl Rove has cleverly led Republicans to do – has tried to offer an uplifting vision. In doing so, they have failed to watch their flanks, and the GOP attacks coming from all sides. And they end up sounding more professors than commanders in chief.

There may be a good reason for that. Obama, Gore and Dukakis all have actually been professors, and MTV once made the professorial John Kerry a “surprise professor” for one of its “Stand-ins.”

And what do professors do? They lecture. They gently try to lead a group toward enlightenment. They don’t generally attack. And they don’t win elections.

FULL POST


Filed under: Barclay Palmer • The Buzz
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