Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rick Warren, Barack Obama, and John McCain (but not Bob Barr) at the Saddleback Church Civil Forum

A few things about the Civil Forum at Saddleback Church....

1) I thought Barack Obama did a good job. He's going to get some heat over listing his wife, grandmother, and Ted Kennedy as people he thought of as "wise" and that he would listen to as President. McCain, on the same question, instantly came up with General David Petraeus, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, and EBay founder Meg Whitman. But Obama has now demonstrated that he can speak fluent Evangelical.

2) John McCain did a good job. He's going to get some heat for joking that you're rich if you make upwards of five million. McCain's answers came so quickly that he appeared incredibly decisive. (Addition from Monday August 18th....Rick Warren joked that during Obama's question and answer session, John McCain was backstage in a "Get Smart"-style Cone Of Silence. People are starting to question the integrity of Warren's precautions.)

3) I grew up in churches that didn't clap, applaud, or cheer. The idea is that you're there to bring glory to God, not man, so I get squirmy when people are applauded in a church sanctuary. (I'm going somewhere with this....) I believe that McCain came out ahead in this format, but McCain was getting most of the applause from the Saddleback congregation and that could've swayed me. It would be interesting to have some creative recording engineers reverse the applause between the two candidates on the soundtrack, and then play it back to a group that didn't see the original broadcast. Perhaps the perception of that viewing audience would be dramatically different.

4) Rick Warren (an alumni of Fort Worth's Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) came across well. Did he seem to be spoon-feeding McCain some of the questions? It seemed like Warren's queries to McCain went on a little longer before they finally got to the question mark.

5) Libertarian candidate Bob Barr was not invited to participate in this program. This is from the email that went out yesterday from the Barr campaign:

This Saturday, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain will take the national stage for their first combined national event. It will take place at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. For the past several weeks, we have put in requests and phone calls to the church's pastor, Rick Warren, who was quoted this week in Time Magazine as saying, "I want what's good for everybody, not just what's good for me. Who's the best for the nation right now?"

Unfortunately, Pastor Rick Warren doesn't care to know the true answer to that question as he has willingly excluded Bob Barr and other candidates from his forum on Saturday. After weeks of negotiations and calls to Saddleback Church from leaders from every corner of the political spectrum supporting Bob Bar's inclusion, we've been left out in the cold. The only people getting into the event are Obama, McCain and those who reportedly paid $500 to $2,000 to the church to sit in the audience.

Yesterday, I reported to former Congressman Barr that we've exhausted every avenue. I told him, "We've had calls placed to Pastor Warren from very powerful leaders from the left and the right, we sent in our personal request, and placed numerous phone calls that have not been returned. You are not going to be included. "Our only option left is to threaten to file an temporary injunction as our attorney's believe they are in violation of the law."

Bob responded by saying, "No, don't threaten to do that . . . Just do it."

As you read this, our attorneys are filing an injunction against Saddleback Church to include Bob Barr in their forum this Saturday. You are the first to hear about this. The complaint is based upon a violation of McCain/Feingold campaign finance legislation. While we're no fans of that legislation. However, we don't write the rules, we're just forced to play by them.

In this case, we're using McCain/Feingold to our advantage.The reason I am disclosing so much to you is because this is just the beginning.At every way you look at it, we're at a disadvantage.

- We are being blocked from the national stage by the media, debate commissions and now evengroups like Saddleback Church.
- Both the campaign and our party have put most of its manpower and money into getting on the ballot in every state.
- And we have our hands tied behind our backs by laws like McCain Feingold that benefit the two major parties.We are being blocked from the national stage by the media, debate commissions and now even.

6) I hope people don't think they saw a debate tonight. I hope they don't confuse any of this with sharing varying points of view.

What we saw tonight was a discussion between The Daddy Party and The Mommy Party about who is going to drive the family car down the highway for the next four years. Unless 3rd parties are given access to these "debates", Daddy or Mommy might slide the seats back, change the radio stations, or turn down the air conditioner. The winner might stop for lunch at McDonald's instead of Burger King. The winner might speed up or slow down.

But neither one of them is going to change the direction of the car. The Daddy and Mommy Parties have already shown that they share the same map.

4 comments:

Nick M said...

"It would be interesting to have some creative recording engineers reverse the applause between the two candidates on the soundtrack, and then play it back to a group that didn't see the original broadcast. Perhaps the perception of that viewing audience would be dramatically different."

WS, do not give them ideas! That is exactly the sort of chicanery I can imagine being done.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I won't be surprised if we see a mini-firestorm over the way Warren was asking the questions and the applause level.

The way a question is asked has proven to have a huge impact on the answer that is given. I think people will be looking at the way Warren was asking these questions for a long time. He is soooo much the preacher that he couldn't just stick to what was written on the card.

Francis Shivone said...

1.My Broadway / libertarian comment was meant as a joke, and not as an impugn on your tradition. I apologize if I gave offense.

2. I have no opinion good or bad on Rick Warren. He makes me a little nervous -- but he is the prototype pastor of the "new evangelical." And I think the questions were good and fair. McCain was more comfortable but like you say, take the applause for McCain out of the mix and my opinion may be different.

3. Obama speaks the language of personal religion much better than McCain but doesn't square up on the major concerns. He is Jimmy Carter x 2.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

1) Francis, no offense given, none taken. The larger baptist groups do a good enough job impugning our tradition.

2) Rick Warren is one of the few mega mega mega preachers that doesn't scare me at all. It makes me wonder if he might really be the real thing.

3) PLEASE don't scare me by comparing any legit candidate to Carter.