Saddleback Civil Forum Highlighted Obama's Shallowness And McCain's Depth
August 25, 2008
By Mary Mostert
The questions asked Barack Obama and John McCain last Saturday by the Rev. Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California revealed the shallow shell of Barack Obama and the amazing depth of experience and quick thinking of John McCain by asking them the exact same questions and allowing them to give spontaneous, personal responses. It also revealed the lack of actual reporting the major media outlets have provided American voters in this election.
A few examples:
Warren's first question was: "Who are the three wisest people you know in your life, and who are you going to rely on heavily in your administration?" Obama listed only two "wise" people he had known in his life - his wife Michelle, who announced at a rally for him on February 18, 2008 that "for the first time in her life" she was proud of America. His other choice for a wise person was his white grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who he described 4 months ago as a "typical white person" who "once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street," and "on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."
In domestic policy he also said he would rely heavily on Ted Kennedy, the man who calmly abandoned Mary Jane Kopechne to suffocate at the bottom of Pucha Pond after he drove his car they were in off the Dyke Bridge on Chappaquiddick Island in 1969. He mentioned Sam Nunn, a Democrat, or Dick Lugar, a Republican, he would "listen to" on foreign policy.
McCain listed three "wise" people: General David Petraeus whom he described as "one of the great military leaders in American history, who took us from defeat to victory in Iraq;" McCain's second choice was former Civil Rights activist, Democrat Congressman and Obama supporter John Lewis of Georgia, who led the Selma Voting Rights March in 1965, and Meg Whitman, who founded E-Bay, a company that today produces income for 1.5 million people.
The next question asked by Warren was: "What would be the greatest moral failure in your life?" Obama, qualified his response by adopting "victim" status: "I had a difficult youth. My father wasn't in the house. I've written about this. You know, there were times where I experimented with drugs. I drank in my teenage years." Of course, he did have his white alcohol drinking grandfather in the house for a role model.
McCain replied to the same question by taking complete responsibility: "My greatest moral failing - and I have been a very imperfect person - is the failure of my first marriage. It's my greatest moral failure." He made no effort to blame anyone else, his first wife or the fact that for six years he was a prisoner of war.
The second part of Warren's question was "what has been America's greatest moral failure?" Obama responded: "I think America's greatest moral failure in my lifetime has been that we still don't abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me, and that notion of - that basic principle applies to poverty. It applies to racism and sexism. It applies to, you know, not having - not thinking about providing ladders of opportunity for people to get into the middle class. "
McCain responded: "I think after 9/11, my friends, instead of telling people to go shopping or take a trip, we should have told Americans to join the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, the military, expand our volunteers, expand what you're doing - (APPLAUSE) - expand what you're doing, expand the current missions that you are doing, that you are carrying out here in America and throughout the world, in Rwanda. And I hope we have a chance to talk about that later on." McCain urged expansion of individual action, whereas Obama urged expansion of organizational or government action.
Warren's next question was: Can you give me a good example where you went against party loyalty, and maybe even win against your own best interest, for the good of America?" Obama stumbled over that question until Warren clarified it by asking: "What's the most significant position you held ten years ago that you no longer hold today, that you flipped on, you changed on, because you actually see it differently?" Obama replied that when President Clinton signed the Welfare Bill ten years ago he was "concerned that this could have disastrous results." He seemed surprised that it did not have "disastrous" results . In fact, he seemed a little relieved that "ultimately people who work are going to get more income, but the intrinsic dignity of work, the sense of purpose.
When McCain was asked the same question about an issue he had "flipped" on his response was to the point: "Offshore drilling, we've got to drill now and got to drill here! We've got to do everything. We've got to do wind, tide, solar, natural gas, hydrogen cars, hybrid cars, electric cars. And we have to have nuclear power in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save on our energy costs."
Warren's next question was: "What's the most gut-wrenching decision you ever had to make and how did you process that to come to that decision?" Obama responded: "I think the opposition to the war in Iraq was as tough a decision as I've had to make. Not only because there were political consequences, but also because Saddam Hussein was a real bad person. And now, as the war went forward, there are difficult decisions about how long do you keep on funding the war, if you strongly believe that it's not in America's national interest. At the same time, you don't want to have troops who are out there without the equipment they need"
McCain responded: "It was long ago, and far away, in a prison camp in North Vietnam. My father was a high-ranking admiral. The Vietnamese came and said that I could leave prison early. And we had a code of conduct. It said you only leave by order of capture. I also had a dear and beloved friend, who was from California, named Ebb Alvarez, who had been shot down before me. But I wasn't in good physical shape. In fact, I was in rather bad physical shape. So I said no. Now, in interest of full disclosure, I'm happy I didn't know the war was going to last for another three years or so. But I said no, and I'll never forget sitting in my last answer, and the high-ranking officer offered it, slammed the door and the interrogator said, "Go back to your cell. It's going to be very tough on you now." And it was. But not only the toughest decision I ever made, but I am most happy about that decision, than any decision I've ever made in my life. It took a lot of prayer."
Question: At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view? Obama: " Whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade. .I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade."
McCain: "At the moment of conception (APPLAUSE). I have a 25-year pro-life record in the Congress, in the Senate. And as president of the United States, I will be a pro-life president. And this presidency will have pro-life policies.
Question: Does evil exist? And if it does, do we ignore it? Do we negotiate with it? Do we contain it? Do we defeat it? Obama: "Evil does exist. I mean, I think we see evil all the time. We see evil in Darfur. We see evil, sadly, on the streets of our cities. We see evil in parents who viciously abuse their children. I think it has to be confronted. It has to be confronted squarely, and one of the things that I strongly believe is that, now, we are not going to, as individuals, be able to erase evil from the world. That is God's task, but we can be soldiers in that process, and we can confront it when we see it.
"Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for to us have some humility in how we approach the issue of confronting evil, because a lot of evil's been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil."
McCain: "Defeat it. A couple of points. One, if I'm president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get bin Laden and bring him to justice. I will do that. And I know how to do that. I will get that done (APPLAUSE). No one, no one should be allowed to take thousands of American - innocent American lives.
"Of course, evil must be defeated. My friends, we are facing the transcended challenge of the 21st century - radical Islamic extremism."
To compare other questions asked, read the transcript. It presents the best comparison by far between the candidates that has emerged in the campaign, because it deals directly with leadership qualities of the two men. One of them will become not only the leader of the United States of America but will become a world leader as well.