Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Confrontation At Saddleback

Prospective nominees John McCain and Barack Obama had an unusual meeting at Saddleback Church, a large Evangelical Church run by Pastor Rick Warren.

What Warren arranged was not a debate, but two interviews, in which he asked each candidate identical question seperately in front of the congregation while the other was sequestered in a soundproof area offstage.

Needless to say, this 'warmup' to the campaign was carried live on FOX, CNN and CSPAN as well as other outlets and became a national event. The results were outstanding, and pointed out major differences between the two candidates, not just in political positions but in actual style and demeanor.

My pal Laer over at Cheatseeking Missiles was in the audience, and his excellent firsthand eyewitness account is here and worth the read for a blow-by-blow account of what went on.

Having seen a tape of the proceedings, here are my own impressions:

Compared to Obama's rambling, imprecise answers, McCain's were crystal clear, filled with substance and delivered with no equivocating the point where the Obama campaign actually accused him of getting all the questions before hand, a charge they later withdrew when they realized how stupid they sounded.

In fact, McCain came across as so direct and so in touch with his core beliefs that the contrast with Obama was almost scary.

If this had been a prize fight, they would have stopped the bout about 15 minutes into McCain's segment.

I can't help but think that this did some serious damage to Obama, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if his handlers were busily figuring out ways to limit, rigidly control or outright eliminate any future debates.

He's simply not in McCain's class.


Anonymous said...

Expect the main stream news media to help Mr. Obama and his handlers in eliminating or curtailing future debates. If they do have futre debates, in the tv formatat that have been done in the past, John McCain wlll have Barack Obama for lunch assuming it is a fair debate. The moderators of the debate may give Obama's camp advanced copies of the questions. If so, this may help keep the debates some what close.

Even if we have debates I'm not sure how many people will tune in. It seems alot of people wait for the media talking heads to analyze the debates and tell them what happened.

The interviews at Saddleback could have done some damage to Obama, however, the evangelical Christians who made up most of the audience on hand are such an insignifcant part of the politcal process that it probabl would not make much difference there.

Also, it seems unlikely that many people would be watching any of the major news channels on Saturaday or Sundays. If this did any damage to Obama, his handlers should be able to minimize it.

With that said Obama should be up by twenty or thirty points right now, however, the polls indicate a very tight race. How do we explain this? First of all we know that the public is fed up with Republicans and the voters desparately want change. Obama is pushing change. Why has he been unable to get a big lead in the polls? Either he is having trouble getting his message accross or many people are uncomfortable with the kind of change he is pushing.

Mr. Obama is an excellent public speaker and he has much of the main stream news media supporting him. As such, be able to get hsi message accross is unlikely to be the problem. The problem seems to be that many voters are uncomfortable with the kind of change he is pushing.

Anonymous said...

I've watch a couple of Obama's speaches and have come away empty. His style is OK but his words come up way short.

Anonymous said...

Even if we have debates I'm not sure how many people will tune in. It seems alot of people wait for the media talking heads to analyze the debates and tell them what happened.

b.poster has described this correctly. however, this is not an informed electorate. waiting to be told by the talking heads is '60s era electionism. this should be a new day, and with what is at stake should not be the way an informed and concerned electorate should behave.

Anonymous said...


This should be a new day but it does not seem to be. Perhaps we are back in the '60s as far as elections go. Most people don't understand what is at stake. besides the media tells them that all of their problems would be solved if only they would vote Republicans out of office.

Want to solve our issues with Russia and Iran? Simply capitualate to their demands. After all the demands of the American leaderhsip is unreasonable. America should stop being such a bully. Acknowledge that the problems that Russia and Iran have with us are legitimate and admit we are at fault. Problem solved. If only America were not such a bully, we would all just get along.

Want to solve the health care problems? Turn it over to the government. Institute government mandated health care.

Pay to much at the gas pump? Nationaliz the evil oil companies.

The theme through all of this is Republicans are evil and all problems would be solved if we would vote their leftists allies into office.

If this were an informed electorate, Louie is correct that Obama would have only about 1% of the vote. Alas, this is not an informed electorate. Given that the public is absolutely fed up with Republicans and the electorate is not infomred, Obama should have a thirty point lead. why doesn't he. I think alot folks are simply uncomfortable with the kind of change he is pushing.

Even the Obama camp seems to admit he lost the debate. It seems he was really creamed in this question and answer session. The Obama camp must be looking ffrantically for a way to cancel future debates. If the debates are fair, McCain will clean Obama's clock in these debates.