Monday, August 18, 2008

Obama and McCain at Saddleback Civil Forum - The Winner(s)? Warren and McCain

I read the transcript from the presidential forum at the mega evangelical church, Saddleback Church in California, hosted by its pastor Rick Warren.

Initially, I was concerned it would be a feel good affair without tough questions asked by Warren. The promo mentioned leadership, environment, poverty and so on as topics to be discussed. It turned out to be a very good forum with Warren asking a lot of insightful questions like: what issue has the candidate changed his mind on over the last ten years; their and America's biggest moral failing; most difficult decision; what faith in Christ means to them; at what point does a baby get human rights; have you ever voted to limit or reduce abortions; define marriage; embryonic stem cell research; does evil exist and if so how do we deal with it; which Supreme Court judges wouldn't you have nominated; right of faith-based organizations, which receive federal funding, to hire people subscribing to the organization's religious tenets; merit pay for teachers; what constitutes rich; what's worth dying for as an American; dealing with genocide; addressing religious persecution and human trafficking; why you want to be president; what would you tell the American people if there weren't any repercussions.

I think McCain did surprisingly well. He's not known for comfortably addressing issues of personal faith in a public forum while Obama is. I thought McCain was more energetic and forceful in his comments. He knew what he wanted to say and said it. Obama spoke in more generalities. I think Obama is certainly sincere in his beliefs and commitments but I think his problems will again be his inexperience and liberalness.

McCain is really going after this campaign. I sensed an energy and forcefulness which belies his 71 years of age. He knows what he needs to say and is saying it. He touched on his experience as a POW which demonstrates courage and character. He showed his command of foreign policy issues which again demonstrates his experience. I didn't see that coming from Obama; in some ways he's out of his league as far as experience. That's something he can't hide because for one his opponent won't let him.

Regarding policy positions, their positions speak for themselves. Obama danced around the abortion, saying it was above his pay grade to speculate on when life begins or when human rights should start for the unborn. And his comment that he opposes late term abortions as long as there's an exception for the health of the mother. Come on. That exception eviscerates any supposed restrictions.

And again, Obama said he believes marriage is between one man and one woman but said he supports civil unions which is marriage by another name and what he didn't mention was he supports repealing the federal definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Why would he do that if he didn't think alternative definitions are better.

I suspect hard core secularists were upset to hear both candidates express a personal faith in Christ.

Again hats off to Warren for asking good, insightful and even tough questions. The answers give us a better picture of where McCain and Obama stand on the issues and who they are as people.

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