American Morning

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October 15th, 2010
06:19 AM ET

Should Politicians Be You?

Christine O'Donnell wasn't the first to say “I Am You” – but you could argue she was the first to say it in a way that grabbed America's attention in way few politicians have. The "I Am You” political strategy is ubiquitous - it seems to be in every politician's playbook, no matter how ridiculous it might sound. Perhaps you're wondering why?

“They do it because it’s been done,” says Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman. “That was a message that resonated years ago, but the electorate is a much more sophisticated electorate,” he adds. To win votes, politicians bowl, drink whisky, hunt and ride horses. But President Ronald Reagan’s horse was more subtle than, say, Bill Clinton grabbing burgers at McDonald’s, with his jogging shorts, and marriage problems. Bill Clinton was a baby-boomer's "I Am You" dream. He connected with them - and won. Analysts say the I'm-like-you strategy really exploded in 2008.

On the campaign trail, Sarah Palin gave shout outs to “everyday American people, like the hockey mom and Joe Six-Pack. And although some political strategists might say it's a tired tactic - the idea of you running the country resonated with many voters. “Because they’re angry, they don’t trust anybody,” says Professor Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia. “Who are they most likely to trust? Themselves.” But, is that what voters really want? Do they want a peanut farmer, like Jimmy Carter? A cowboy like George W. Bush? A Good Ole’ Boy like Clinton? Or a hockey mom like Plain – to run the country? In the end, says Zimmerman, “this election is not about whether a politician is like the electorate, its about what the politician is going to do for the electorate. That's what the electorate is demanding today and that's really what resonates.”

We'd like to know what you you want a politician to be like you?

Filed under: Gut Check
August 13th, 2010
05:58 AM ET

"Eminem and Rihanna's New Video: Is Domestic Violence "The New Normal?"

Domestic violence is rampant in celebrity culture these days – notably the incidents involving “Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen, actor/director Mel Gibson and musician Chris Brown. Yet despite the intense publicity surrounding their cases, some say these influential entertainers won't suffer much financially. And one of the most popular music videos is the controversial “Love the Way You Lie,” by rapper Eminem and pop star Rihanna - about a violent, passionate relationship.


Filed under: Gut Check
July 30th, 2010
07:30 AM ET

Gut Check: Should pets be considered like a child in divorce court?

[cnn-photo-caption image=]

For Gayle Myers, her dog Lucky is just like her child. "I don't have any kids, so she is the closest thing that I am going to have to a child." She and her husband, Craig, had taken in Lucky, a Shih Tzu mix, as a stray. When their eight-year marriage ended in divorce, the couple managed to resolve all outstanding issues - except for who would get to keep Lucky. "I know that he cares about her and didn't want to give her up either. It's just - neither of us wanted to give her up,” Myers says. And because in Maryland, pets are considered property, like a house or a car, it was up to retired Maryland Circuit Judge Graydon S. McKee II to decide who would get the dog. He awarded the couple joint custody - the first time a decision on dog custody has been recorded in Maryland. Lucky will spend six months a year with each of his "parents." McKee says after listening to both sides, he thought it was the only fair thing to do. Watch Video


Filed under: Gut Check
July 23rd, 2010
07:29 AM ET

Gut Check: How can Republicans attract more African-Americans?

By Ronni Berke and Carol Costello, CNN

(CNN) – Political blogger Sophia Nelson considers herself to be a long-time Republican moderate – at least until recently, when she says she’s become more libertarian and independent.

“The problem with the Republican Party now is that (it) is identified with the Tea Party, with the conservative movement,” Nelson, editor-in-chief of, explains. Nelson identifies more with Republicans like the late New York Congressman Jack Kemp and former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman.

“People like myself and others feel like well, there's really not a place for someone like me in that party because we're RINOS, Republicans in name only, right?”

She says some Republican leaders are sensitive to that and even more worried now in light of the Shirley Sherrod affair, as perhaps, they should be. A CNN poll shows 73 percent of African-Americans think some or all of Tea Party supporters - who generally lean Republican - are racially prejudiced. And only 26 percent of African-Americans think the Republican Party does a good job of reaching out to minorities.


Filed under: Gut Check
July 16th, 2010
06:56 AM ET

Gut Check: Race Relations

The NAACP-Tea Party debate has at times escalated into name-calling and accusations of racism. It's ugly – and a far cry from those days when many Americans thought we had turned a corner on race relations with the election of America's first African-American president. Observers say it's the same racial stalemate America's been stuck in for years. Still, not so long ago, Americans were hopeful.


Filed under: Gut Check
July 2nd, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Gut Check: Do female judges rule differently than men?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (L) talks with Elena Kagan May 20, 2009 in Washington, DC."]

By Ronni Berke and Carol Costello, CNN

(CNN) – It was a decidedly feminine moment – as far as Supreme Court nomination hearings go. Senators chuckled when Elena Kagan said she'd have to get her hair done more often if cameras were allowed in the Supreme Court.

It's another reminder that, if confirmed, Kagan would be one of three women currently serving on the high court. Many women legal scholars say they are thrilled the court is becoming more gender-balanced. But it's not entirely clear whether having more women justices will have any real impact on the court's decisions.

Do female judges rule differently than men?

A recent study by State University of New York, Northwestern University, and Washington University researchers found no significant difference in the way female and male judges decided cases, except one: sex discrimination. In those cases, female judges were 10 percent more likely to rule in favor of the victim. The Supreme Court's female touch Video


Filed under: Gut Check • Supreme Court
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