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September 29th, 2011
10:56 AM ET

Comedian Dean Obeidallah: With politics so hyperpolarized, who would want to be president?

Dean Obeidallah, award-winning comedian, wrote a thought-provoking piece yesterday titled, "Why would anyone want to be president?."

Within the article, Obdeillah argues that the American public is increasingly demanding of political candidates due to conditioning to reality show competitions on TV.

"On any number of TV shows each week, we watch, judge and vote on whether a person performs to our liking," he writes. "One week we sing their praises, but the next week, if they misstep, they are dead to us. We now treat our candidates this way."

With politics so hyperpolarized and candidates facing challenges from unreasonable, demanding voters, Obdeillah questions why would anyone want to run for president.

Today on American Morning, Obdeillah sits down with Carol Costello to discuss his opinion piece and the political climate in America.

Filed under: 2012 • Opinion
September 28th, 2011
08:02 AM ET

John Avlon: Politics as ideological blood sport

Check out this column on about “broken government,” written by John Avlon, CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

Filed under: Opinion • Politics
June 21st, 2010
08:30 AM ET

Commentary: Exhaustion to blame for BP's PR blunders

Editor's Note: David Margulies is a 24-year crisis management veteran and founder and president of The Margulies Communications Group in Dallas. His book, “Save Your Company, Save Your Job: Crisis Management in the Internet Age,” comes out later this year.

By David Margulies, Special to CNN

It seems that every day BP makes some new public relations blunder, like BP CEO Tony Hayward attending a yacht race or talking about “getting his life back.” Many attribute these blunders to arrogance, insensitivity or stupidity. I would like to suggest a simpler explanation – these folks are just plain exhausted.

One of the most important decisions executives make is how to delegate important duties during a crisis so that no individual in overwhelmed. For example, when Captain Sully Sullenberger’s plane lost both engines over New York, he wrote that his first priority was to keep the plane in the air. Other duties were turned over to his first officer while Sully concentrated on job one.

To avoid these public relations blunders BP should have taken the same approach. The CEO can’t be the company’s primary spokesperson if he is also trying to deal with one of the world’s biggest environmental disasters.

One reason BP may have undertaken the strategy of making Hayward their main spokesperson is that many in the oil industry remember that the Lawrence G. Rawl, chairman of Exxon, was heavily criticized for not going to Alaska after the Exxon Valdez spill.

But BP went too far. A visit to the site of the incident is appropriate for top company executives, but once BP’s CEO visited Louisiana he should have turned the role of spokesperson over to others in the company and focused on managing the crisis.


Filed under: Opinion
May 7th, 2010
06:30 AM ET

Avlon: Oil spill disaster turned ugly partisan football

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is a senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the new book "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN independent analyst John Avlon says partisan politics won't help the people who live along the Gulf or the local fishing industry which is being impacted by the oil spill."]

By John Avlon, Special to CNN

The wingnut wars have escalated to such an extent that we can’t even deal with a natural disaster without the partisan attacks and counter-offensives coming full force. That’s why this week we’re looking at the shameful attempts to turn the devastating oil spill in the Gulf into an ugly partisan football.

We’ll start with El Rushbo – Senor Limbaugh was inevitably among the first to wade into the muck, questioning whether the oil spill was caused by environmental saboteurs and asking his audience whether it was timed to impact the energy bill:

“I want to get back to the timing of the blowing up, the explosion out there in the Gulf of Mexico of this oil rig. Since they're sending SWAT teams down there now this changes the whole perspective of this. Now, lest we forget, ladies and gentlemen, the carbon tax bill, cap and trade that was scheduled to be announced on Earth Day. I remember that. And then it was postponed for a couple of days later after Earth Day, and then of course immigration has now moved in front of it…But this bill, the cap-and-trade bill, was strongly criticized by hardcore environmentalist wackos because it supposedly allowed more offshore drilling and nuclear plants, nuclear plant investment. So, since they're sending SWAT teams down there, folks, since they're sending SWAT teams to inspect the other rigs, what better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I'm just noting the timing here.”

As conspiracy theories go, this one is pretty ornate – environmental terrorism backed by a well-timed attempt to derail legislation. I particularly love how the Obama administration’s centrist policy outreach to increase off shore oil exploration and nuclear power plants – a core piece of the GOP’s proposals – is summarily dismissed by Limbaugh, saying Obama “supposedly” backed the proposals. Guess you can’t give fair credit when it means supporting the policies of the president from a different party.

But we’ve come to expect these hyper-partisan bloviations from Rush – they are part of this expert political entertainers shtick – his audience doesn’t expect responsibility, they tune in for the outrage.


Filed under: Opinion • Politics • Wingnuts of the week
April 28th, 2010
10:00 AM ET

In defense of 'dirty girl' culture

Editor's Note: Jaclyn Friedman is the executive director of Women, Action & the Media and a charter member of CounterQuo, a national coalition challenging the way we respond to sexual violence. Her anthology, "Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape," was named one of Publishers' Weekly's Top 100 Books of 2009.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Author Jaclyn Friedman says we should stop worrying about "bad girls" and focus on the men who put them in danger."]

By Jaclyn Friedman, Special to CNN

Last Friday, Carol Costello interviewed me for a story about what she called a "dangerous," "dirty girl" trend, (embodied by pop-star-come-lately Ke$ha) saying it involved girls being "rude, crude, and sometimes very, very drunk," and asking if mothers should worry.

While Carol and I agree about the importance of women's safety, watching the final edit of the piece made me realize how much we disagree about how to get there. Kindly, she's invited me to share my perspectives with you.

Now, I'm no Ke$ha fan. (I just cringed as I typed that ridiculous "$" in her name.) Her lyrics and videos embrace shock value for no reason beyond shock. But pop stars being blandly offensive are nothing new – Elvis was no different. Except for one tiny detail: Elvis was male.

And that's what's really at issue here. Bad boys make us shriek and faint. Bad girls make us worry. Don't they know that acting like that is dangerous?

Of course they do. That's why they're doing it. Know what else? All the girls dancing to their music know it's dangerous, too. That's why they like it.

Young adulthood has long been a time for rebelling against social norms, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. Want to keep girls safe while they figure out where their limits are? Don't ask them to be good girls in order to stay safe, when they can see that no one asks boys to do the same thing. That's not just unfair – it doesn't work.


Filed under: Gut Check • Opinion • Women's Rights
April 23rd, 2010
06:30 AM ET

Avlon: Birthers have 'deep discomfort' with Obama as president

Editor’s note: John P. Avlon is a senior political columnist for The Daily Beast and author of the new book "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Previously, he served as chief speechwriter for New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="CNN Independent analyst John Avlon says the birthers’ claims that President Obama is ineligible to be president should be on the ash-heap of discredited conspiracy theories by now."]

By John Avlon, Special to CNN

The wingnut wars continued this week with revivals of unwelcome old fringe fault lines: the birthers are back in the form of a state legislature vote and members of a teacher’s union are protesting budget cuts with a prayer for the New Jersey governor’s death and comparisons to genocidal dictators.

The birthers’ claims that President Obama was not born in the United States and is therefore constitutionally ineligible to be president should be on the ash-heap of discredited conspiracy theories by now. But despite his birth certificate being put online by the Obama campaign back in June of 2008, verified by both Politifact and the Republican governor of Hawaii, Linda Lingle, the desperate attempt to de-legitimize our duly elected president has its defenders. Add to that list the GOP members of the Arizona House of Representatives, who by a vote of 31 to 21, voted this week to require President Obama – or any presidential candidate – to submit their birth certificate to appear on the state ballot.

Arizona Republican State Representative Cecil Ash appeared on CNN's "AC360" on Wednesday night to defend the ridiculous bill (which still has to pass the state Senate), and in his fumbling offered this revealing explanation:

"I think there's been a lot of controversy over the issue, created a division among a lot of people in the United States, for better or worse, many people don't believe he is a U.S. citizen, they believe he has loyalties, divided loyalties I suppose you could say."

Fears of “divided loyalties” is what this is ultimately about – a deep discomfort with Obama as president, rooted in a twisted belief that he is fundamentally un-American. The birth certificate is both a symbol of this belief and an attempt to undo an election after the fact, stemming off the deeper dynamic that has caused some unhinged people to believe that losing an election is the equivalent of living under tyranny. The wingnut legislators who voted for this bill ought to be ashamed for this ugly bit of pandering while remembering a bit of apparently forgotten wisdom – everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not their own facts.


Filed under: Opinion • Politics • Wingnuts of the week
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