CNN contributors Ari Fleischer and Donna Brazile explain who they think "won" the CNN debate in Arizona.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/OPINION/05/03/brazile.oil.new.orleans/tzleft.brazile.cnn.jpg caption="Brazile: Greed, negligence caused BP oil spill, death toll; suffering to be long-term" width=300 height=169]
I spent a restless night, worrying that another man-made disaster might devastate my beloved hometown, New Orleans, just as its post-Katrina motto "Recover, Rebuild, Rebirth" was becoming real.
The oil spill couldn't come at a worse time. Everybody was so up, waiting for the inauguration of our newly elected Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
The BP oil spill threatens New Orleans and the entire Gulf Coast in a way that's more insidious than Hurricane Katrina. After all, the failure of the levees and the response from the previous administration, widely criticized for incompetence and indifference, followed an act of nature: the destruction, immediate; the impact, obvious; and the pain and suffering, visible to all.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/CRIME/04/09/john.paul.stevens.retires/story.stevens.gi.jpg width=300 height=169]
Campaign finance reform advocates will lose a great hero when Justice John Paul Stevens retires from the Supreme Court. As the last remaining World War II veteran in such a place of eminence, he brings an invaluable perspective to the bench.
Like Justice Sonia Sotomayor, although for different reasons, Justice Stevens knows history and has a background no other justice can claim. Veterans of any war have an experience of the world that is valuable to share. John Paul Stevens will be missed, and his service cherished.
Stevens understood that the court's opinions would have ramifications for the rule of law, but also for real people. This realistic approach led him to write and join opinions restricting the application of the death penalty to youth and the mentally disabled. Stevens also wrote the dissenting opinion in Bush v. Gore (2000), a decision I know all too well having served as Vice President Al Gore's campaign manager.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/15/zarrella.selma.pennsylvania/art.selma.bridge.cnn.jpg caption="The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, site of the 1965 'Bloody Sunday' march."]
On Sunday we commemorate the courage and sacrifice of 600 men and women who dared 45 years ago to take the first steps in a 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital, Montgomery, for the right to vote. That day, Sunday, March 7, 1965, would come to be known as "Bloody Sunday."
As these unarmed civil rights patriots attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where fewer than one percent of eligible black voters were allowed to register, they were gassed and beaten with billy clubs by state and local police, some on horseback, ordered to break up the demonstration.
Captured by television cameras and broadcast nationwide, the suffering of these nonviolent activists, 50 of whom required hospitalization, awoke the nation's consciousness to the importance of voting rights and the entire civil rights movement.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/07/30/gates.police.apology/art.gates.harvard.file.gi.jpg caption="Scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. had a confrontation with a Cambridge, Massachusetts, police sergeant."]
The controversy involving the arrest of a black Harvard professor by a white police officer has brought race relations in America to the front burner.
President Obama has called it a "teachable moment." But what is the lesson to be gained?
I believe that one of the lessons is that we have not entirely passed through the threshold of the post-racial era. Living in it may be our national aspiration, but it is not our everyday reality.
Our everyday reality is that we must continue to struggle to reconcile racial differences without resorting to name-calling. Angry white racist cop! Angry black racist man! We must continue to struggle to find our common ground. Now that a national conversation on racial profiling has begun, where do we go from here?
Having acknowledged that his comment that Cambridge, Massachusetts, Police Sgt. James Crowley had "acted stupidly" in arresting internationally renowned scholar Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. may have escalated the matter, President Obama has volunteered to take time from pressing national and international issues to host a meeting between the two men in which they share cold beers and cooler heads.
There's an old saying down in my hometown of New Orleans about how to tell the changing of the seasons. I'm not referring to winter, spring, summer or fall, but rather to the aroma of what someone's cooking up fresh and delicious.
Shrimp, oysters, crabs, crayfish - those are our seasons. It's all a cycle, and before we enter the Lenten season, we gather together to celebrate Mardi Gras.
The parades that began earlier this month won't end until late Fat Tuesday, February 24. This Sunday most of us will come home soon after the Bacchus float rolls down Canal Street, to watch the 81st annual Oscars and root for "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/24/naughty.politician/art.eliot.spitzer.gi.jpg caption="A recent poll found 23 percent of respondents think former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer should get the nod as the naughtiest politician of 2008."]
As poll after poll quantifies the public's immense admiration for Barack Obama as the incoming 44th president of the United States, other politicians, especially those elected to serve in the U.S. Congress, continue to yield approval numbers low enough to flash-freeze an elephant (or a donkey) in under a minute.
They have only themselves to blame.
Their troubles come against the backdrop of the seemingly endless scandals involving elected officials from across the nation and both sides of the political aisle, from New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer to Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to Idaho Sen. Larry Craig to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney of Florida, who only two short years ago was voted into office as a moral crusader to replace disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley.
CNN Political Contributor
Have your friends voted yet? What about members of your family? And how about you? How are you going to feel November 5, and for the next four years, if you don't?
What if your candidate loses? You're not allowed to complain if you don't vote, and if you're anything like me, it would be impossible to stay silent for four years.
Regardless of which campaign you're working for or merely supporting, the next 72 hours are the most critical period in this, the home stretch. Campaigns are now focused on one thing and one thing only: getting out their voters. And you registered voters are their targets.
Over the next few days, Barack Obama's and John McCain's campaign teams will begin their "dry run" up to Election Day. Dry runs are held to work out any kinks, test the field operations, and recruit last-minute volunteers to fill in the gaps.
There's also the "fire drill" with key campaign staff members gathering in the "boiler room" and testing everything, including the databases with lists of supporters and undecided voters and the auto dialers used to make last-minute calls to voters who need reassurance. iReport.com: Share your early voting experience
The street operation, sometimes called Operation Sweep, involves teams of volunteers who will be deployed to major intersections, football games, shopping malls or anywhere they can reach people where they work, play, shop, and eat out on weekends
Editor's Note: Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist, serves as a political contributor for CNN. She also serves as the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and founder of Brazile & Associates, a Washington-based political consulting firm. Brazile, who served as the campaign manager for the Al Gore-Joe Lieberman ticket in 2000, wrote "Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics," a memoir about her life in politics.
CNN Political Contributor
Our nation's economic foundation is crumbling like sand beneath our feet. Middle-class families are losing their jobs, homes, savings accounts and college funds.
Retirement nest eggs are fried to a crisp. Nine million children in America don't have health care coverage. We're fighting wars on more fronts than we can handle.
And John McCain is talking about ACORN?
Just as a top McCain adviser admitted that his candidate wouldn't campaign on the economy because it's a losing issue, so too it seems that the GOP has made a collective decision to abandon any real discussion of the issues in favor of distortion and distraction.
Through its 850 neighborhood chapters in more than 100 cities across the United States, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now organizes the powerless to work together for social justice and stronger communities through affordable housing, quality education and better public services. They are dedicated to looking out for those with little means in our society.
In the world of some elites, low- and moderate-income families and the organizations that work to empower them are the bad guys. There is all-out class warfare going on here, folks.
Another example of it is how people in the low-income bracket are being blamed for the subprime market crash - rather than the unscrupulous lenders who redirected them from the fixed 30-year prime rates they could have paid to the subprime and adjustable rate mortgages destined to implode. The victims are revictimized.
It is an unfortunate reality that "poor" and "racial minority" are invariably overlapping circles in a Venn diagram. But the class animosity now being bred is, as it always has been, a cover for racial antipathy. And, make no mistake, this is exactly what's going on here. How pathetic and immoral in the face of the challenges we must confront as a nation.
Experts who have examined the allegations against ACORN have concluded that there is no significant threat of voter fraud. For the fraudulent registration forms to turn into fraudulent votes, they would have had to get through the election officials' vetting systems and make it onto the voter rolls.
Next, someone would need to arrive at the assigned polling location with valid identification that lists the same name and address as the fraudulent registration. (This is fairly difficult to do if you're dead or named Mickey Mouse.)
Then, having passed all these hurdles, that someone would cast a vote that will cost him or her 10 years in jail. Just find me someone willing to spend 10 years in jail just for a chance to vote for Obama or McCain?
Let's look at the facts. ACORN labeled as "suspicious" the fraudulent registration forms a few of its paid volunteers submitted. Moreover, ACORN delivered them to election authorities under that heading. ACORN offered to help election officials pursue prosecutions against those who filled out the fraudulent forms.
The so-called ACORN scandal is no more than a few canvassers trying to meet their quota and make easy money by cheating the system.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/16/art.vert.obama.jpg width=292 height=320]Donna Brazile
CNN Political Contributor
After two years of talking about the 2008 presidential campaign ad nauseam, I still get one question repeatedly: Is America ready yet?
My firm answer after being on the road nonstop and witnessing the crowds of ordinary people standing together for a cause greater than themselves is that the country is poised to write a new American chapter.
All the polls say Sen. Barack Obama is leading and that his rival Sen. John McCain should be very, very worried. From mid-single digits to low double-digits, some pollsters and pundits seem to believe that Obama has got this election in the bag.
But anyone who's been in this game for more than a round or two knows not to pop the bubbly too early. Who knows what can happen in the final weeks, days and hours of a presidential election? October has earned its reputation for surprises.
Usually it takes an event - an illegitimate child or the rumor of one, a past DUI conviction or a current mistress, a closet drug addiction or some other skeleton rattling its bones - to reverse the fortunes of a front-running candidate.
Editor's Note: Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist, serves as a political contributor for CNN. Brazile, who served as the campaign manager for the Al Gore-Joe Lieberman ticket in 2000, wrote "Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in American Politics," a memoir about her life in politics.