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Home, and then what? Pondering the ex-president
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) -- Each dawn through the 1950s and into the 1960s, he would emerge from the house on North Delaware Street and amble through town in suit and Stetson hat, a snowy-haired Midwestern retiree on a morning constitutional to the library where he volunteered....

An ex-president who walked among us
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) -- Retired Secretary of State Dean Acheson would stop by often. Georgia Neese Clark Gray, the country's first female treasurer, gave impromptu lessons in parallel parking. And former Treasury Secretary John W. Snyder? He apparently had a bit of the "dirty old man" in him....

Test your knowledge about ex-presidents
They go home from the White House and step into new lives. Then what? Test your knowledge about what former presidents did after they left power behind....

Analysis: Barack Obama's many faces, all useful
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The biracial American kid with a Kenyan father who went from place to place, who struggled to put down roots and figure out where he fit in? He's Barack Obama....

A moment in history: The American story renewed
AP Photo
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some countries are founded upon ethnicity, others upon geography. Some are created from conquest or carved out by faraway rulers. But America is different: It was created from whole cloth - a story built by a people who just keep adding chapters as they go along....

America: What in the world does it want to be?
AP Photo
NEW YORK (AP) -- George Washington, first president, said this: "It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world."...

Analysis: An unusual glimpse into the presidency
AP Photo
Picture Lincoln, in the throes of the Civil War, suddenly mocking his critics in a nyah-nyah voice. Imagine Theodore Roosevelt, leaving office, lamenting out loud about how hated he was by Standard Oil. Summon an image of FDR cracking wise about his wheelchair and grousing about the nasty things Hitler was saying about him....

Bloody, then buddies: It's still the American way
AP Photo
LOCK HAVEN, Pa. (AP) -- The seat of Clinton County sits along a river at the foot of a spectacular mountain range in rural central Pennsylvania. On Election Day, what happened here was a microcosm of American duality: Just 327 votes separated John McCain, who won the county, and Barack Obama, who didn't....

Essay: Of Kennedys and Kings _ and Lincolns, too
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He spoke about posterity, and for it. But in looking forward at his finest hour, Barack Obama never forgot to look back....

A worried America chooses its course for change
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In a season of profound political and cultural fissures, the American people stood together at the ballot box Tuesday with a resounding chorus that drowned out their deep differences: Something, they said, has got to give....

Finally: Decision time for a deeply divided USA
Finally....

The morning after: Half of us will be disappointed
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The meteorologists tell us that Wednesday morning in southwestern Pennsylvania's largest city will be crisp and sunny with a high of 64. That's about all we know. Being a weather forecast, it offers nothing about the political climate that will have been created by the election the day before....

When Washington is broken, enter the `outsider'
WASHINGTON, Ga. (AP) -- Back in 1780, while the Revolutionary War still raged, a village in eastern Georgia had a notion. The hero of that uncertain hour was Gen. George Washington, and the community of Heard's Fort became the first of nearly 30 across the land to take his surname as its own....

VP: A second banana in a country of firsts
AP Photo
WEEHAWKEN, N.J. (AP) -- Beside a mighty river, tucked away in the shadow of a towering ribbon of asphalt that leads drivers into the Lincoln Tunnel and Manhattan beyond, sits a plot of land notable because of a two-century-old event that, for most Americans, is largely forgotten....

In these times, political catchword is certainty
NEW YORK (AP) -- Fellow Americans, let us be clear: This news article will improve your life. Of that there can be no doubt. And those negative voices that disagree? They're fundamentally wrong. It is time, finally, to turn our backs on their failed notions....

'Celebrity' dig reflects US culture, history
AP Photo
WASHINGTON (AP) -- When John McCain decided to cast Barack Obama as a feckless upstart, an empty suit, he reached for the dirtiest word he could use: "celebrity."...

It's GOP's world; elitists just live in it
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Snowmobiles are good. NASCAR is very good. Football metaphors about God are better. "Sam's Club Republicans" are the salt of the American earth. Hollywood, the media and academics are suspect at best, subversive at worst. Though not as bad as European ideas....

Analysis: Palin more than her resume _ much more
AP Photo
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Being a mayor of 9,780 is nothing like leading 305 million. Living next to Russia does not make you a foreign policy whiz. And presidential competence is rarely measured in square miles....

Kids in the public eye: Where does the line lie?
AP Photo
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The review was scathing. "She cannot sing very well," it said. "She is flat a good deal of the time." So the singer's father did what any loyal dad might. He put pen to paper and dashed off a blistering nastygram....

Analysis: GOP contradicts self on Palin family
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- People: Make up your minds....

An evolving GOP approach to family values?
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Dan Quayle struck a nerve in 1992 when he went after the TV series "Murphy Brown" by saying its depiction of a single mother was irresponsible and set a bad example for America. The Republican vice president said the fictional character was "mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another `lifestyle choice.'"...

GOP convention script goes straight to rewrite
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Republican National Convention script, Day One: Take your seats, 2:39 p.m. Call to order, 2:45 p.m. Recite the Pledge of Allegiance, 2:49 p.m. Singing of the national anthem by Miss Minnesota 2008, 2:52 p.m....

Analysis: When the best politics is no politics
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- With Hurricane Gustav chugging toward the Gulf Coast and New Orleans bracing for its impact, the time for contentious politics at the GOP convention is over. Now, it's time for ... more subtle politics....

Party tickets bring American experiences to fore
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- An Irish Catholic guy from a coal town who rides Amtrak home from work each night. A "hockey mom" of five who served on the PTA. A 72-year-old Vietnam vet. A biracial kid with a stepfather and a history of moving around....

The kitchen table: Anatomy of a metaphor
AP Photo
DENVER (AP) -- The rooms of the modern American household have always crept into campaigns. Politics makes strange bedfellows, for one. The living-room war ended Lyndon Johnson's political career. And everyone keeps saying the economy's headed for the toilet....

Analysis: 'Born in the USA' returns to politics
DENVER (AP) -- A generation after Ronald Reagan famously mistook Bruce Springsteen's music for uncritical patriotism, Democrats claimed "Born in the USA" on Thursday for the theme it was meant to project - to describe a splintered country they say desperately needs new policies and new dreams....

DNC '08: Reviewing the big show
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DENVER (AP) -- A pivotal moment in the 1998 movie "Pleasantville" comes when an unusual remote control pulls a brother and sister into their television set. They emerge on the other side, inside the world of the show they are watching....

The cult of the regular guy in America
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DENVER (AP) -- Bowling a few frames? Absolutely. Windsurfing? Not so much. Clearing brush on your ranch with rolled-up flannel sleeves? Pitch perfect. Forgetting how much real estate you've accumulated? Hit the road, Jack....

America in 2008: What of the Kennedys?
AP Photo
DENVER (AP) -- It wasn't subtle, but it was heart-tugging stagecraft at its best. With sailboats and choppy seas, passed torches and enduring dreams, clan Kennedy summoned the 1960s and showed that the flame - the one tended by America's most ardent Democrats, at least - burns still....

Distraction 2008: Freedom of choice _ or from it?
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- On blistering days in Los Angeles, drive northeast on the 110, exit at Highland Park and pull into a roadside grocery called Galco's. Then walk in and say, "I'm thirsty. Can you point me to the soda-pop aisle?"...

Nation's capital: An ever-changing American mirror
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The 32nd president stares resolutely from his wheelchair, cast in the kind of immortal bronze reserved for the leaders we remember as distant paragons of national virtue. Yet something seems ... amiss....

America: At the edge of history once again?
One day this past January, Mary Kim Titla's parents left their home on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in southeastern Arizona and drove across the desert to Phoenix with a single purpose in mind - getting an up-close glimpse of a long shot named Barack Obama....

Music and Candidates: an Uneasy Alliance
So let's say it's the early 1980s, and you're a rising young musician named John Cougar Mellencamp. You cut a song with a chorus that oozes Jeffersonian democracy and adds a touch of postwar suburban placidity. "Ain't that America - for you and me," you sing in your gravelly Indiana voice. "Ain't that America; we're something to see. Ain't that America: home of the free. Little pink houses for you and me."...

Campaign-Song Oddities From the Past
GREAT NECK, N.Y. (AP) -- President Martin Van Buren didn't have MP3s. Or CDs. Or, for that matter, popular bands with wide radio play whose songs he could sample at rallies. This was, after all, 1840....

Sacrifice: An American virtue on rebound
It was a simple question, really, one the debate moderator hoped would lead Republican presidential candidates into a discussion about how much the public was willing to give to benefit the nation. "What sacrifice," she said, "would you ask Americans to make to lower the country's debt?"...

McCain says Americans most willing to sacrifice
AP Photo
CLEVELAND (AP) -- You look at the man today - immaculately tailored suit, ramrod-straight posture, confidently articulating complex beliefs in a swanky Midwestern hotel - and it's almost impossible to fathom who he was between 1967 and 1973....

The Cult of Decisiveness in US Politics
EDINBORO, Pa. (AP) -- On a wintry morning, in a college town not far from Lake Erie, a coup is brewing. "You're going to take over the country today, brothers and sisters," Werner Lange, an assistant professor of sociology, tells his Contemporary Social Problems class....

Kerry Argues for Nuance in Decisions
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States was for slavery "before we were against it."...

Quick Five: Lee Iacocca on Decisiveness
Former Chrysler chief and American business icon Lee Iacocca, 83, who once said that "decisiveness is the one word that makes a good manager," recently spoke to The Associated Press about the concept of decisiveness and how he sees it....

Measure of a Nation: We Are the Change
MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) -- It's almost noon, almost time for what drew Carey Youngblood and his pals to the abandoned General Motors plant. Hands tucked deep in dirty jeans pockets, the factory men stomp their feet to stay warm as the countdown begins....

Parallels Stark Between 2 Centuries
The culture-in-transition documented by sociologists Robert and Helen Lynd at the dawn of the industrial age has many parallels to these anxious times. A look at their era and ours:...

Searching for Teddy Roosevelt 2.0
Political legends are made in times like these....

The Presidency: Myth and Reality Combine
The president of the United States stands at the podium in the American Capitol, facing us all - Congress, the Cabinet, a television audience of millions. He struggles for the right words to restore the public's faith in his office....

What a Frankenstein President Might Be
A bit of inspirational vision from Thomas Jefferson. A dose of national supremacy from James Monroe. Theodore Roosevelt's bully pulpit, Ronald Reagan's folksy charm and Bill Clinton's empathy. Add it all up and what have you got? The ultimate president....

Myth, Revisited: 1860 Race, 2008 Style
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- It's edging toward the end of another long night of election coverage, and Tim Russert appears weary. "Four candidates in the most dangerously regional and divisive election in American history," he says, his voice dripping with the calibrated gravitas so at home on TV news. "What a mess."...

Quick Five: Mythic Presidents on Screen
Five great (AP) -- or, at least, provocative - depictions of the American presidency immortalized on screens large and small (and a few stragglers, too). No matter if they really existed....

Multimedia
Measure of a Nation