CBS

The latest results from three respected surveys--NBC/Wall Street Journal, New York Times/CBS, and the Pew Research Center--suggest that the Obama administration is moving into a new phase. While the president remains personally popular, doubts about key aspects of his agenda are rising. If events at home and abroad prove uncooperative, Democrats could be in trouble in next year's midterms. Let's begin with the good news for the president.

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Why American politics and society are about to be changed for the worse.

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As with the Obama-McCain debate last Friday, the vast majority of the insta-polls went to the Democratic ticket. Biden won the CBS poll of undecideds 46-21, and the CNN poll of debate watchers 51-36. Independents in the large MediaCurves focus group panel went for Biden about 2:1.The internals, however, weren't nearly as bad for Palin as the topline results.

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David Cay Johnston, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his innovative coverage of our tax system, retired this year as a investigative reporter for The New York Times.

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David Holmes, a 34-year-old political/legislative consultant, is a Democratic superdelegate from Austin, Texas. He pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton about three weeks before the Iowa Caucus, but recently, there have been rumors that he’s thinking about switching his support to Obama. Let’s just say that he’s been getting a lot of phone calls lately. ... Holmes agreed to keep a diary for TNR of his superdelegate experience.   February 15, 2008 I am David Holmes, and I am a superdelegate.

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What Women Want?

The hiring of Katie Couric as anchor of the CBS Evening News stands as one of the most visible testaments to the decline of American journalism (not that her predecessor Dan Rather was great shakes). J.P. Freire has an excellent article in Brainwash explaining why this is so. Couric's recent trip to Iraq, Freire writes, "is a PR stunt aimed to gin up credentials for an anchor who isn't taken seriously as a reporter. Creating a peaceful Iraq seems like cakewalk by comparison." Despite the claims of CBS, Couric's ascension does not represent some great achievement for women in journalism.

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Al Gore's New Theory

Editor's Note: In the current issue, Ryan Lizza speaks with Al Gore about his new book, The Assault on Reason, and the former vice president explains what went wrong with democracy. The following is a transcript of the interview, which was conducted on May 30.   Ryan Lizza: Explain what the book is about. Who did you write the book for? Who is the audience for the book? Al Gore: Principally Americans, although it's selling well in England as well, and there is interest in translations.

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Show Stopper

Yesterday, at 10:15 a.m. Pacific time, an earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale hit central California; news reports claimed that you could feel the shakes in Los Angeles, but no one I spoke to in the area noticed a thing. One day prior a similar sort of seismic activity struck the entertainment industry: Conan O'Brien had finally signed a contract to succeed Jay Leno in 2009 as the network's newest "Tonight Show" host. It shocked me that Hollywood insiders I knew balked at speculating about the news. Were network omertas keeping them silent? No, they said.

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Closed Sessions

Trent Lott must think he's living in a nightmare. More than one week has passed since his segregationist cheerleading at Strom Thurmond's century celebration, and the chorus of anti-Lottism has swelled ever louder. Conservatives in particular can't scream loud enough.

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Need to Know

If the Bush administration's preparations for war with Saddam Hussein were proceeding appropriately, the president would probably be curling up right now with something called a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) for Iraq. An NIE is a document pooling all the information on a particular country that U.S. intelligence services have collected from overheard phone calls, satellite photos, decrypted e-mails, defectors, paid informants, foreign intelligence services, diplomat tipsters, newspaper articles, and official speeches.

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