Saddleback Forum

This was a fascinating event to watch on TV. For me, the most illuminating question Warren posed was on the nature of Evil in the world. Obama answered by saying that we should confront the evil in the world, but that it can only be God who can completely eliminate evil. And he added that in confronting the evil of the world, we must do so with humility. McCain, on the other hand, without hesitation said we should defeat evil. He claimed that he would “follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell” if need be. In addition to that, he claimed that he knows how to find Bin Laden. Finally, he said that he had no doubt that with the US military, he could completely rid the world of evil. In my view, Obama’s response was much more responsible and was rooted in reality, which is always a good thing right. On the other hand, based on his answer, a McCain presidency might make Abu Ghraib seem like the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Sadly but not surprisingly, the crowd, while friendly to Obama, was really eating up McCain’s responses. The strangest moment, as Andrew Sullivan noted, what when the crowd gave it’s loudest applause for McCain’s call to begin off-shore drilling as soon as possible. It’s interesting that a room full of people who could afford the $500-$2,000 ticket price for this event are THAT concerned with the price of gas.

From my perpective, while Obama didn’t get the same kind of responses from the audience that McCain did, I think he did a fine job of allowing voters to familiarize themselves with him a bit more. He was much more conversational and personal with Warren while McCain used this event more as an opportunity for a religiously styled stump speech.


6 thoughts on “Saddleback Forum

  1. i thought this was a great thing as well. mccain just sounded like an old politician, that’s not terrible, but that’s what he is. i don’t think he is really that interesting. i can appreciate obama more after this. i think he was by far more personable and genuine. my biggest problem is that i really think he talked around the issue of abortion. abortion is definitely a justice and human rights issue. in other issues like darfur and the war he is clearly opposed to i think he should see abortion as a similar problem.

    i’m really interested to see what this does for the campaign.

    it was good to see regardless of what anyone thinks about either candidate

  2. I liked when McCain breezed by genocide in Darfur with a canned answer then spent 2 minutes describing the tragedy in Georgia as happening to a “beautiful country” filled with” wonderful people” . I’m always amazed by the Republicans selective indignation.

  3. Particularly striking was the question: “define rich?” which was followed by laughter and jokes about tremendous book sales (for both obama and warren). According to Obama 150k and “on down” puts one somewhere between middle class and poor. He goes on to say that 250k and “on up” puts one within in the “top 3 or 4 percent” of the country. After naming those numbers, Obama shifted his focus from tax breaks to the problem of rampant spending. This is interesting. Note worthy to me was the fact that he took a “me” issue aimed at self preservation (tax breaks for the rich being a self focused question) and turned the finger back on the citizen— calling for increased responsibility in one’s financial expenditures. In other words, where Obama could have simply provided an answer to quell the crowd, he instead offered a subtle critique— obviously including himself. I thought his answer highlighted well a strong consistency with his previous answer regarding his “greatest moral failure”— selfishness.

    In the hour that followed McCain faced the same question: “define rich?” and spoke of the family, the home, job, education, security, and prosperity. He mentioned the correlation between wealth and unhappiness (silence from the crowd). But then He suggested that tax hikes would only represent poor policy in the midst of an economic recession. He added something to the effect of, ‘I don’t want to take any money from the rich. I want everyone to be rich.” (surprise: widespread applause)

    I wasn’t surprised or bothered by McCain’s answer— after all he and his wife are worth some 25 odd million. I was, however, bothered by a church crowd so eager to applaud for the protection of “their” money…. or “your” money as McCain referred to it. And in the end, what constitutes “rich”? McCain joked about $5million annual salary. He said about 6 times that he was kidding. But why? Where should one locate his reluctance to address the issue seriously. Where should one locate the church’s absolute euphoria for his humor on the issue?

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