Barack Obama and John McCain are appearing at Pastor Rick Warren‘s Saddleback Church.
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8:00: Rick Warren says his church “believes in separation of church and state.” No one seems to be laughing. I’m confused.
8:04: Obama goes first because he won a coin flip. He should get out while he’s ahead.
8:04: Obama has to name the three wisest people he knows. Say your wife. Say. Your. Wife.
He says “you” (Warren). Well played, sir.
He says his wife. Good.
He says his grandmother. Seems decent enough…
He goes on a tangent to says he’s bipartisan, not limiting himself to three wise people, but choosing from all sides. Huh? Boring…
8:08: Obama’s greatest moral failure? He had a hard youth, he says. Drug use, drinking were bad. He was selfish. Applause.
America’s greatest moral failure? We don’t help the least of our brothers — quoting the Bible. A Democrat knows the Bible? thinks the audience. More applause.
8:10: Party loyalty question. Obama worked with McCain on ethics/finance reform, he says. He also broke with his party, in a sense, on going into Iraq (though he wasn’t a Senator at the time).
8:13: What have you flip-flopped on in the past 10 years? Obama says the issue of welfare reform. Helping the poor. Something Warren likes. Smooth. He doesn’t ever say he was wrong, but he says he’s become more accepting of programs that require a welfare recipient to work.
8:14: William Lobdell points this out regarding Obama’s comment about being selfish:
“It’s not about me” is the first line from Warren’s best-selling “Purpose Driven Life” book.
8:20: Worldview questions. In other words, how Christian are you?
How important is Jesus to you? Are you %$&# kidding me? Oy.
Just stick to the script… Obama does. Then he keeps rambling about the Jesus.
8:22: Abortion. Obama’s pro-choice. How does he handle this?
At what point does a baby get rights? Wade carefully… Obama evades the question. He says, though, that there is a “moral and ethical element to this issue.” He says he’s pro-choice. Not pro-abortion. Adding that women don’t make these decision casually. He wants to reduce abortions, though.
Has Obama voted to reduce abortion? Yes, to late-term abortion, with exceptions for the woman’s health. Pro-lifers don’t like this, though. If you’re solid on the idea that life begins at conception, though, Obama says he can’t argue with you. There must be a middle ground. Obama wants women to have the resources (adoption, health care, etc) to keep a child.
8:25: Define marriage. Man and woman, says Obama.
A bigoted audience claps loudly.
He adds that marriage is a threesome with God. (My words, not his.)
Audience claps more.
Obama wouldn’t support a Constitutional amendment for this, though.
One dude in the audience claps. I assume he’s escorted away.
Obama says he supports civil unions.
No one claps.
8:28: Stem cells.
Obama says nothing you haven’t heard before.
8:30: Does evil exist?
Obama says yes.
I’m wondering who could possibly say “no” to this…
8:32: The courts.
Which Supreme Court justices would you not have nominated?
Not Clarence Thomas. Oooh… black on black. That’s one that’ll be dissected.
Not Scalia, though Obama gives credit to his intellect.
John Roberts? Obama voted no on his appointment, and says what he’s seen so far confirms his suspicions about him. Specifically? Roberts has been to willing to give the Bush administration more power than they should have.
8:35: Faith-based organizations?
Warren asks if faith-based organizations can legally discriminate against people they don’t like. Obama’s already said no on this, though he has supported FBO. He tells Warren FBO can hire anyone they want on their own terms, but on federally funded programs, no discrimination.
No one claps. Apparently, they want their discrimination.
8:38: Education. Merit pay for teachers.
Should better teachers be paid more?
Obama says we need a system for performance pay created with teachers (unions and whatnot). And reward excellence.
8:39: Define “rich.”
Obama pokes fun at book-selling God, Rick Warren. Funny.
If your family makes $150,000 or less, you’re middle class. Depending on region.
More than $250,000? You’re doing well.
It’s all relative.
8:45: War. What’s worth dying for?
Obama says “American freedom.” Boring…
8:47: When do we go in to places like Darfur?
It depends, he says.
(One dude caught on camera is seen walking out.)
8:49: Orphans. Would you help them like Bush helped AIDS victims?
(WTF sort of question is that?)
Obama says yes.
8:50: Religious persecution in China? Other countries? (Not just of Christians.)
Obama says we need to speak out. Religious freedom is key. Lead by example. Insert-your-own-soundbyte-here.
8:53: Human trafficking. Bad?
Yes. Obama says we must stop it.
Another question that doesn’t help discern the two candidates at all.
8:55: Why do you want to be president?
Crowd goes wild.
8:56: What about those people who don’t like me asking you these questions?
Obama says these are the kinds of forums we need.
I’ll admit at this point that as much as I disapprove having this kind of forum (at a church), this is much more compelling than the last ABC News debate debacle with Hillary Clinton.
8:56: What would you tell the American public if there were no repercussions?
Solving big problems won’t be easy. Everyone must get involved.
Warren tells his crowd to applaud. Just in case they don’t.
John McCain comes out.
Hands are shaken. Photos are taken.
9:02: Three wisest people? In your administration? (slightly different question than Obama’s)
Gen. David Petraeus.
John Lewis. Congressman.
Meg Whitman. Former eBay CEO.
9:05: Moral failure?
Say “cheating on your first wife.”
He says his first marriage… no mention of cheating. Moves on quickly.
America’s failure? He says something about 9/11. Not a bad answer, though.
He mentions Warren’s book’s first line (“It’s not about you”) to score easy points. Obama did this more smoothly.
9:02: Party loyalty?
McCain mentions a number of cases when he’s gone against the Republicans.
He’s not very compelling onstage… gets into a “stump speech mode” very often. Unlike Obama, he acts like he’s giving a speech to the audience, instead of talking directly to Warren.
9:08: Flip-flop from 10 years ago?
McCain says “off-shore drilling.”
You can almost see him going through a list of possible answers in his mind…
Back to stump speech, he goes.
Someone needs to tell him this is not a campaign rally.
Even though it’s kind of a campaign rally.
9:11: Most gut-wrenching decision ever? How did you make it?
McCain mentions the prison camp from Vietnam. Tells his war story. No doubt he went through hell, but for some reason, when he tells the story, it strikes me the wrong way.
McCain adds that he prays.
9:16: You’re a Christian. What does that mean to you?
Another Vietnam story.
Sounds like his entire staff told him to constantly remind everyone he was tortured in Vietnam.
When’s a baby entitled to human life?
At conception, says McCain.
Lots of appluase.
McCain adds he has a pro-life record and will be a pro-life president.
9:20: Define marriage.
One man, one woman, says McCain.
Was CA wrong in allowing gays to marry? asks Warren
Yes, says McCain.
He says states should have that decision.
Even though California, a state, made that decision…
9:21: Stem cells.
He’s in favor of it, though he adds that skin cell research will make this debate moot.
9:23: Does evil exist?
Yes, and we should defeat it.
(Again, pointless question.)
He says he’ll follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell — and no one should get away with taking American lives (then why did Bush send our troops to Iraq???)
9:24: Which justices would you not have nominated?
Ginsburg. Breyer. Souter. Stevens.
Why not? asks Warren.
McCain says they’ll all legislated from the bench.
He adds he likes Alito and Roberts.
No one asked.
9:27: Faith-based organizations?
Can FBOs discriminate?
Yes. Let them be bigots. Screw the gays and women and blacks, implies McCain. If your faith doesn’t like them, they will get federal funding.
Merit pay for the best teachers?
Yes, and find bad teachers another line of work.
Home schooling, charter schools, vouchers — all competition is good, he says.
He says “vouchers works” — the education question is a good time to show bad grammar.
9:31: Taxes. Define “rich.”
“Some of the richest people I know are the most unhappy” — that’s a cute soundbyte that completely avoids the question.
“My friends” count? 4 at this point.
Keep taxes low with a $7,000 tax credit per child. $5,000 tax credit for the insurance of your choice.
McCain has not defined rich. Obama did.
Now he does. Jokingly. $5,000,000 is rich.
“I don’t think… seriously…” — Keith Olbermann will have a field day with that one.
“My Friends” count? 5.
Obama’s answer to this included a joke, a very serious academic answer, and no added crap.
My friends? 6.
9:35: Security question. When do our right to privacy and our right to national security collide?
(That’s not the right form of answer…)
9:40: What is worth dying for?
(Strangely, here, he doesn’t go into his Vietnam story…)
He tries going into Georgia and Russia. Warren stops him. (Thanks.)
9:44: My friends? 8.
He goes into Georgia and Russia. I think he’s trying to show that he knows they exist. Unlike Czechoslovakia…
And he’s trying to show he knows something about international affairs by just rattling off country names and saying he’s visited them.
9:47: How would you end religious persecution?
“The bully pulpit.”
These are the longest answers ever… no wonder people fall asleep at his rallies…
We need to get them adopted. (Unless the adopters are gay. In which case, $%&# the orphans.)
Another boring story. He’s like a grandparent no one wants to listen to…
9:51: Why do you want to be president?
To inspire a generation.
9:53: What about those who oppose me asking you these questions in a church?
I want to be in every venue and this country was founded on Judeo-Christian values.
Well, McCain just lost my vote…