Axis of Right

Three Native Rhode Islanders Commenting From the Right on Politics and Anything Else

McCain v. Obama at the Saddleback Church Civic Forum

Posted by Ryan on August 17, 2008

Last evening, the evangelical mega-church, Saddleback Church, had a “civic forum” with the candidates to discuss issues Pastor Rick Warren wished to hear about.  It was not a debate in the usual sense.  The format was excellent: about 50 minutes a piece, one candidate at a time using the same questions with the same audience for roughly the same amount of time without hearing how the other responded.  On a coin flip, Obama went first followed by McCain.

There is a sense that McCain looked strong and decisive, while Obama looked measured and at ease.  I didn’t watch the whole thing.  I popped in here and there.  I thought McCain looked good and answered with authority.  Everyone knows Obama can speak, so McCain’s performance beat the lowered expectations… that concept helped get Bush two terms!  McCain’s not my favorite politician (even slightly misquoting Reagan’s “[take] down this wall!” remark), but he did not hurt himself at all in this event.  In fact, I agree with those who say that he even won.

Much of the “analysis” afterwards on the cable networks dealt with the potential gaffes.  In my opinion, Obama had the biggest gaffe of the night on the issue of abortion:  he really did utter the phrase “above my pay-grade” in response to a question about his opinion as to when unborn babies should get legal protection?  I guess until he’s President, right, then he’ll be paid enough?  The Empty Suit strikes again!

What a ridiculous answer and one which will hurt him with evangelicals and pro-life Catholics!  To all those who doubt: life begins at conception — that’s not a political opinion or a moral issue, it’s a scientific fact.  That is a premise on which we all should agree.  Politics and policy come next and everyone’s opinion matters.   McCain handled it right and his pro-life beliefs make him the choice for evangelicals in this election.  Obama will not sway the one-issue pro-life voters into voting for Obama-style social welfare (which they like), when Obama is openly pro-choice.

LA Times photo.

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8 Responses to “McCain v. Obama at the Saddleback Church Civic Forum”

  1. Mike said

    I saw the whole thing and thought both candidates did well. There is no doubt in my mind however, that McCain won the evening hands down.

    My first reaction when Obama finished was that he did better than expected. I agree that he gives an excellent speech but in terms of answering questions, Obama has a habit of losing his train of thought when trying to hide what he really believes. Last night, Obama’s demeanor was calm and he did a great job of paying lip service to conservative views. He even described pro-lifers as “pro-life,” not “anti-choice” or “opponents of abortion rights.” When Obama exceeded expectations, I thought McCain was in trouble because I am of the school of thought that this year is a referendum on Obama.

    That said, his smear on Clarence Thomas was beyond weak, especially when he almost said he wasn’t experienced enough at the time he was nominated.

    McCain’s performance was the best I ever saw from him. He passionately made the case for lower taxes and limited government. He did not hesitate to call himself pro-life and even made sure he tied that position to the importance of nominating good Justices. On the question of evil in the world, McCain simply blew Obama out of the water when he discussed Georgia and the need to defeat Al Qaeda.

    What impressed me on the pure politics of the evening was McCain’s moving personal stories. Obama simply cannot compete in that regard. McCain was expected to do better last night because of the format. Thankfully, he exceeded expectations even more than Obama did.

    A quick note: McCain did not misquote Reagan because he wasn’t quoting him, he was paraphrasing. That’s what happens every time someone offers a narrative of a past event rather than just reading a transcript or playing a video. I didn’t misquote McCain merely because he didn’t use the exact term “good Justices.”

  2. Kurt said

    I am floored by this post.
    The number one issue for Evangelicals is abortion, and Obama’s sincere, well thought out answer that began with “That’s above my pay-grade…”, was the best, most intelligent response to the incredibly complicated and extremely emotional question.
    Look, if doctors and scientists could come to an agreement on when life begins, this wouldn’t even be an issue – but they can’t. You have a personal belief, as do I, and that’s all we have. Some look at abortion from the perspective of protecting the unborn. Some look at it as protecting the rights of women.
    Anyway, he laid it out much better than I could, but for you to characterize his response as a gaffe is wrong.

  3. Mike said

    The issue of when life begins is not a personal belief. Everything about us from our brains, hearts, arms, legs, separate blood type, REM dream patterns are present before we our born and can be traced back to our own unique DNA structure which is present from the moment of conception.

    Even if one incorrectly assumed that the question of when life begins is not clear cut, I think this reader at the Corner reaches the only conclusion one could reach based on that uncertainty.

  4. […] McCain v. Obama at the Saddleback Church Civic Forum « Axis of Right […]

  5. Chris said

    After hearing Jill Stanek describe a very grizzly act that was done by her former hospital, and then listening to Obama’s reaction during her testimony, I think we all know his true abortion stance. Stanek was also featured in Jerome Corsi’s new book The Obama Nation (which I highly recommend) and will be on Hannity’s America tonight.

  6. I find it hard to believe that anyone still believes anything Jerome Corsi has to say, considering he has repeatedly been proved to be an inept researcher, a liar, a bigot, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, and an apparent plagiarist.

    In regard to the original post, however, while I agree that McCain did better than Obama, I doubt that the discussion will have much of an effect on anything. Given a choice of a religious/political discussion on a Saturday night in August, most of the relatively few people who were home watching television were tuned to the Olympics. McCain was going to get the conservative evangelical vote, anyway, though he may have boosted his credibility with the folks he once termed “agents of intolerance.” Obama may have countered the ongoing fiction that he is a Muslim, though the people stupid enough to believe that may not be able to figure out how to vote, anyway–and if they do, they weren’t going to vote for Obama.

    I am a bit troubled that the candidates felt they needed to attend a church-sponsored discussion at all, a further complication of what I see as an often negative relationship between religion and presidential politics. It would bother me less if the candidates felt equally compelled to answer questions from a union leader, a state governor, the mayor of a major American city (New Orleans or New York, perhaps?), a panel of teachers and parents, and a panel of economists.

  7. another Kurt said

    The question is an “incredibly complicated and extremely emotional” one only to those relativists who imagine that all questions are answerable by human reason — especially theirs.

    While Jefferson’s opposition to “all forms of tyranny over the mind of man” stands as a timeless milestone on the way to understanding — something beyond the reach, frankly, of most “educated people” today — not all answers offer themselves, even to the most sincere rationalist.

    For civilization to persist at all, some answers have to proceed from settled ground, as the term “moral” implies. But that further implies authority, an authority above man’s tussling, rough and tumble world, where he assumes the strongest gets to ‘answer’ the ‘difficult’ questions, strongest being the one who wrests control of the law (govt.) away from its opposition.

    Nope. This question is not man’s to answer; and, G-d has already answered it. But then, to know that, words like ” I am THE TRUTH”, and “I knew you before you were in the womb” have to have meaning, clear, uncluttered meaning. They are not there for our agreement; they are there to evoke our obedience — the hardest action for modern man to take. He wants instead to believe in his own godlike opinion, and he does.

  8. Chris said

    James: Since you have stepped up to the plate and accused Corsi of being a Doris Kearns-Goodwin (aka a plagarist), I have a few questions for you…Can you cite specfic examples or are you just regergitating what it is that the Daily Kos, the liberal Amazon reviewers and the Obama campaign had said about him? Why can’t liberals actually read what is in the book and refute the given information instead of attacking the author? Why can’t liberals actually defend their guy with reasoning instead of smearing others who question? I’m sure, James, that if you would have taken the time to listen to his interviews, you would have learned that this book is heavily sourced and had been lawyered up and down years before publishing.

    On the forum, first, thank you for not joining the school of liberals who claim that McCain cheated. I don’t know about you, James, but I can’t stand it when liberals whimp out and question the intellect of a conservative when tehy know they can’t intelligently debate or challenge them. It is such a cop out. I do disagree, however with your assertion that this forum will not matter. People may have been doing other things on a Saturday night, but it is being talked about all over the news today and it is on YouTube, so Obama’s smere of Clarence Thomas, his gutless dodge of the abortion issue and his uh’s and umms will be heard by all who have internet access.

    Lastly, let me address your last point about the influence of religion and politics. No matter how you slice it, James, this country was founded on Judeo-Christian values and the majority of Americans embrace the Christian religion. Issues such as character, life, how one leads and missteps in life/learning from them ARE major tenets of the teachings of Christianity and rightfully so, Christians want their leaders to positively embrace these issues. In watching this, I learned much about the character of each candidate and would welcome future events such as the Saddleback Church Civic Forum!

    Great Job, Rick Warren!

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