Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saddleback Shows Substance

When the advertising began about the event at Saddleback Church with Rick Warren, I thought it would be something I could live without. It seemed to me to be a long and tedious way to spend Saturday evening. And, I do feel a little put off about mixing politics and religion.

I was wrong.

I tuned in and thought I'd just switch the channel if I was bored. Turns out the two hours were quite interesting. Granted, it may have been interesting to me because I'm a geek about politics and that's why it kept my attention. I have come to the conclusion that though it wasn't a debate and no pronounced winner or loser, it clearly was John McCain's night.

The format, with identical questions asked and answered by the candidates alone on the stage with Warren, one candidate then the other, was a success. No distractions with petty sniping back and forth. No need for one candidate to ask for a few moments for rebuttal. And, most importantly, no obvious political agenda from the moderator.

I don't know much about Rick Warren or his church, other than the wildly successful book he authored - which I haven't read - and that his megachurch serves thousands. I have seen stories of trips to Africa that he and his wife do for missionary work. I have no problem with any of that. I have to say the guy impressed me. He was calm, genial, and asked specific questions not normally asked. His questions were about personal vision, mostly. He dealt with the candidates as men, not politicians.

The contrast was stark.

The candidates were asked for the names of three people to whom they would turn for advice in their new administration. Obama, who was questioned in the first hour, listed his wife, his grandmother (the white one in Hawaii) and then listed off several politicians he thought would be appealing to both sides, such as Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar.

John McCain listed General Petraeus, Rep. John Lewis (GA, civil rights leader w/MLK), and Meg Whitman (Founder and former CEO of e-Bay).

Touchy feely and politically correct vs pragmatic and experienced.

From an article in Investor's Business Daily, "On taxes, Obama waxed political: "What I'm trying to do is create a sense of balance and fairness in our tax code." McCain showed an understanding of what drives a free economy: "I don't want to take any money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich. I don't believe in class warfare or redistribution of the wealth." And, to note a misstep of McCain's - Warren asked each candidate what their definition of "rich" is. McCain said, dismissing the question, maybe $5 million. It was his way of saying he didn't intend to raise income taxes on anyone. As soon as he said it he said it would be used out of context on the campaign trail ( like the 100 years in Iraq remark was). Sure enough, Monday brought the exact prediction coming true as Obama was speaking before a crowd of union members in Nevada and made the claim out of context. He thought he was showing McCain's lack of understanding about rich and poor. To turn that around, it shows Obama's economic socialism in play. McCain rewards success and grows the economy. Obama will punish success and slow economic growth, especially with small business, the backbone of our economy.

The crowd was much warmer to McCain than Obama, which was predictable. And, the posture of the candidates was interesting. Obama answered the questions without specific answers, depending on the use of nuance. He looked Warren in the eye and looked off to the side of the stage. McCain was clear in his responses and concise. He looked at Warren and mostly at the audience, speaking directly to them.

McCain is far more comfortable with a casual, open format. No speeches, no teleprompter, just talking to the people. He is completely comfortable in his own skin.

And, experience matters in today's world.


Jennifer said...

I have read so many conflicting "reviews" on the show. It's pretty funny, really. I watched it all the way through, got a little skeeved a couple of times, but on the whole, thought both of them did well.

But I've read opinions like yours out there, too.

And then there's this take.

Contrast is in the eye of the beholder, it seems.

Paul is a Hermit said...

I wish I had a dog in this fight. But I look at McCain and see Lindsay Graham and I look at Obama and see his colorful past along with the whole Democratic leadership currently in place and I just am not enthused.Yet.
Remark like this often catches heck. Sorry, that is where I'm at.

Beverly said...

The contrast was stark. Yes, it was. I didn't watch it either, but I've seen enough reruns of it to make me a little more enthusiastic about McCain.

Dr. Mohler has an interesting post today on his blog. You might like reading it. www.albertmohler.com/blog.php

Karen said...

Cafferty is a foolish partisan, totally Bush deranged. I thought both did fine and showed who they were. Which was the purpose, no? Partisans on both side agreed McCain was best, though. Even CNN moderators analyzing it. David Gergan looked depressed and sadly admitted it was McCain's night. All but Roland Martin, he is so far in the Obama tank he'll never see the light of day.

Karen said...

You know you may speak freely here. Remember, I'm a Gemini. I see all sides and then choose.

Yes. The contrast has always been there and forums like this one hightlight it for a larger audience. It's a good thing.

Jennifer said...

Oh, I couldn't agree more about Cafferty. But he's just one of many in that sphere. It's the internet, you know.

I don't think Obama hurt himself, nor do I think McCain helped himself too awfully much. It was a pretty fair fight, two differing personalities, and America chooses.

Without relying on horoscope, I think I'm a pretty broad minded individual, too, by the way. There are a whole lot of us out here who read all sides of things and then make up our minds. Just look at me visiting here every day for year, by way of example! ;-) xo

Nikki said...

I agree with this assessment. I was also a little put off by the religiousity of the event and was pleasantly surprised at how well it was presented. I liked Rick Warrens statement at the beginning when he said he believed in the separation of church and state but not in the separation of faith in politics...he was quite good and so was McCain. It was a great night for him and obviously Obama knew it as he is starting to go quite negative. naughty. :)N

Dee said...

I was a little skeptical going in because as an Evangelical I have some problems with some of the things Rick Warren has done. But I was pleasantly surprised at both Warren's good questions and how well McCain did. If McCain can continue to show us the guy he was that night he might have a chance of winning over the conservative base.

Obama did horrible, especially on the abortion question. Above his pay grade??? What job is above the President?