The political forum hosted by minister Rick Warren Saturday night gave us a view of both candidates that none of the previous so-called debates produced. Avoiding campaign talking points, the questions Warren asked exposed the belief systems, character, and motivations of both men. And the country was better off for it.
I came away feeling like Sen. John McCain did the best that I’ve ever seen him do. Judging from reviews of others, this seems to be the overall assessment. Even from Democrats. And Obama’s performance was replete with indecision, obfuscation, and inexperience.
We all know that words mean things. And no one knows that better than Sen. Barack Obama, who made a big deal about it in a stump speech somewhere. Remember ‘Words, Just Words?‘
McCain came across decisive and confident. Obama, on the other hand, came across as indecisive and less confident, to the point of floundering for a way to end his sentence. Chuck Todd, NBC Political Director characterized Obama’s performance as ‘trying to impress Warren (or to put another away) not offend Warren.’ I saw it as Obama trying not to offend his base.
Two answers that Obama gave were especially revealing about his character and belief system.
On the subject of Christianity. Warren asked ‘What does it mean to you to trust in Christ and what does it mean on a daily basis? I mean, what does that really look like?’ Obama sets the stage with this quite acceptable answer.
But what it also means, I think, is a sense of obligation to embrace not just words but through deeds the expectations that God has for us. And that means thinking about the least of these. It means acting – well, acting justly and loving mercy and walking humbly with our God.
Next question, about abortion.’At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?
McCain answered it in five words, ‘at the point of conception.’ By contrast, Obama said ‘. . . answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.’ Just a minute earlier, he was saying how he was thinking about the very least. What, the unborn, the absolute very least, don’t count? Words, just words?
He then said he is in favor of limits on late-term abortions. Well, except for the fact that he voted against a bill that would allow a live-birth aborted baby, a failed abortion, to live. What happened to the very least among us? Words, just words?
The next subject was about the Supreme Court. ‘Which existing Supreme Court Justice would you not have nominated?’ He caught himself in saying that Justice Thomas was inexperienced, which would have virtually undermined his own candidacy. But he started off with Justice Clarence Thomas. His response . . .
I don’t think that he. I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretation of a lot of Constitution.
Then, Barack Obama, the constitutional lawyer, said he does not like the way Justice Thomas operates. He explained himself this way . . .
One of the most important jobs of I believe the Supreme Court is to guard against the encroachment of the Executive branch on the power of the other branches and I think that he has been a little bit too willing and too eager to give an administration whether it’s mine or George Bush’s more power than I think the Constitution originally intended.
Here is another case where the party line trumps reality. Or in this case, the Constitution. There is only one job of a Supreme Court Justice, and by default is the most important one. That is, to decide cases based on the Constitution. Period. End of story. End of job description. The separation of powers was designed so that no branch, including the Judiciary, could do exactly what Obama expects it to do. It all comes back to the ideology of the liberal Democrats, which is, to use the Supreme Court to make laws that the Legislative branch cannot.
Related links: MCCAIN’S BACK IN THE SADDLEBACK | Transcript: Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency