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Saddleback Forum a Success (Updated)

John on August 18, 2008 at 10:36 am

I missed it Saturday night but caught the rerun last night. Despite all the negative publicity prior to and after the event, including attacks from the usual suspects, I think it was handled pretty well. In fact, Warren hit on some of the exact points that Ingrid Schlueter (and Red State) suggested he would not. He mentioned that there had been 40 million abortions and asked what is probably the key question on the whole issue “When does an unborn baby become worthy of human rights?” Barack Obama had his worst fumble of the night on that question, responding that the answer was “above his pay grade.” Hot Air has the video.

Uh…you’re running for President, Barack. Are there any higher pay grades?

Actually I think this was meant to be a kind of hip allusion to God, sort of like saying “the man upstairs.” The problem with this formulation, of course, is that abortions are happening down here, not upstairs. Decisions about what is and isn’t right have been made by human beings. Babies are being disposed of routinely on the basis that they are not worthy of such rights. So saying it’s beyond answering doesn’t cut it. It has, de facto, already been answered. The question for Obama was where do you stand. His pawning it off with some vague nonsense about “theological or scientific” perspectives said a lot. Warren’s critics ought to give him credit for a tough question on this topic. More likely they’ll find something new to complain about.

McCain also had a gaffe. When asked what constitutes rich he answered “$5 million in annual income.” He later explained that he didnt’ want to be part of class warfare, that he wanted everyone to be rich. Still, it seemed like a dodge of the question, which was very specific. I thought Obama’s answer on this was better (though I’m not sure I trust him).

I have the impression that most reviewers felt McCain came off somewhat better overall. Byron York at NRO gives a pretty good explanation. As he saw it, McCain’s answers just seemed deeper. He had more life experience to draw from. The sure sign that Obama didn’t do well is the complaints by his partisans that McCain cheated. Apparently, he hadn’t arrived at the church when the questioning of Obama started so he wasn’t yet inside the “cone of silence.” Warren said on CNN last night that he asked McCain if he’d heard any of the questions and McCain had said no. The Tribune’s blog doesn’t think it’s credible, but it gives Obama’s people something to hang their dissatisfaction on. NBC news is in trouble with camp McCain over their reporter’s airing of this conspiracy theory on Meet the Press.

Lastly, I thought Warren’s effort to create a venue where questions important to people of faith could be asked without rancor was a success. The questions were quite hard in several cases but what really struck me was how unusual some of them sounded. For instance, when was the last time orphans were a major election issue? Over the course of the event, Warren made a good case that the bickering and minutiae sometimes prevents us from dealing with some important big issues. Credit to him for making this happen, for asking good questions and for showing a generosity of spirit to both men. The naysayers, as is so often the case, got it wrong. This is one political event where people of faith came off looking both reasonable and serious. That’s a nice change.

Update: The Saddleback Bloopers courtesy of and Newsweek.

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Category: Politics |

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