December 17th, 2008
12:23 PM ET

Caroline Kennedy – more than the myth, or less?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/15/kennedy.senate/art.kennedy.gi.jpg caption="Caroline Kennedy has her eyes on the New York Senate seat."]

Frank Sesno | BIO
CNN Special Correspondent

All this talk about Caroline Kennedy has brought us once again face to face with the famous name. The politics of connections. The dynasties of American politics. The question of qualifications.

We are again reminded that the Kennedy name has a mythical quality to it. We think of a young, slain president, cut down before he could realize the promise of his presidency. We think of the younger brother also assassinated before he could leave his mark. Who knows what kind of president Bobby might have been? We think of Teddy, flawed as he was, who kept the lion’s roar of liberalism alive through the years. So many of the Kennedy images are frozen in time, forever young, forever promising and idealistic. The torch was passed. We went to the moon. Camelot, they called it – and still do.

The next generation of Kennedy’s has left a mark, too, though in different ways. There have been congressional members, environmental activists, champions of human rights, advocates for the disabled, a documentary filmmaker committed to the disadvantaged and the voiceless. The Kennedy name, wrapped in mythology and torn by tragedy, is about public service. No question about it. Whether you agree with their politics or not, it is a family dedicated to causes.


Filed under: Frank Sesno • Hillary Clinton • Raw Politics
October 1st, 2008
03:42 PM ET

Who's in charge?

CNN's Frank Sesno reports on the Washington power vaccuum exposed by the nation's financial crisis. Watch his report and see what grade the Congress, President, and economy receive according to the latest polls.

Filed under: Bailout Turmoil • Frank Sesno • Raw Politics
September 27th, 2008
10:45 AM ET

First Presidential Debate: What They Didn’t Say

Editor's Note: Frank Sesno co-moderated last week's "The Next President: A World of Challenges; 5 former Secretaries of State share what advice they have for “The Next President.” (WATCH HERE) Frank shares his thoughts on the first Presidential debate:

Watch Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama debate the financial crisis and foreign policy in the first Presidential debate
Watch Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama debate the financial crisis and foreign policy in the first Presidential debate

Frank Sesno | BIO
CNN Special Correspondent

Okay. So the debate featured a few good moments but no knock-out blows. McCain attacked Obama’s experience and Obama challenged McCain’s judgment. But both candidates left a lot out. Partly because the time and questions were limited. Partly because they wanted to.

Let’s start with Iran.

John McCain didn’t say what he’d actually do if the Iranians called up and said, “Hey, we’re ready to talk. You don’t trust us and we don’t trust you but we’ll try this one again as long as you give us a little respect.” Just how would President McCain handle that call? Take it? Ignore it? Say he’d talk but only after the Iranians sign a friendship pledge and shut down their nuclear program? (We know that when a similar missive came in 2003, the Bush administration didn’t even write back.) For all the discussion about conditions and pre-conditions, just how does John McCain propose to deal with Tehran?

Senator, your answer please.


Filed under: Frank Sesno • Presidential Debate • Raw Politics • T1
September 19th, 2008
02:37 PM ET

Former Secretaries of State to next President: Get over it. Get real. Be smart

Program Note: 5 former Secretaries of State tell Christiane Amanpour & Frank Sesno what advice they have for "The Next President."

Watch The Next President: A World of Challenges. Saturday, 9 p.m. ET


Frank Sesno | BIO
CNN Special Correspondent

There we were, sitting alongside five people who had made history and shaped American foreign policy for nearly four decades. Vietnam and détente. Hot war with Iraq and Cold War with the Soviet Union. Mideast peace conferences and arms control. Kosovo and Iran. Rwanda and Iraq. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the scourge of drought, poverty and AIDS in the developing world. Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell. Five former American Secretaries of State. The conversation was remarkable for its candor, depth and realism.

We gathered at the George Washington University, where I teach, to talk about the challenges facing the next American president. Christiane Amanpour brought her experience and hard edge to the questioning. The list of challenges we asked about was daunting– from big global issues like climate change and poverty to decisions about how to deal with the new, more assertive Russia, how to handle Iraq and Afghanistan, whether to reach out to Iran, how to fight terrorism and fix America’s tattered image in the world.

Here’s what the secretaries’ bottom line was: get over it. Get real. Be smart. The world is a complicated place. America has to lead. Play down the ideology, they seemed to say, and approach the world rationally and with perspective. Imagine that.