|Presidential candidates John McCain, Rev. Rick Warren and Barack Obama|
The presidential candidate forum at Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, California, August 17, might not have been on the up-and-up as Warren projected to the media during his publicity blitz. Maybe it's just a look of impropriety. Maybe not. Whatever the case, the conservative evangelist scored a coup over the major media.
Senators Barack Obama and John McCain were quizzed by Warren, who said a coin was tossed to determine who would go first. Obama won the toss.
Warren welcomed the audience, telling them, “Tonight we're going to use the interview format with these two candidates. We believe in the separation of church and state, but we do not believe in the separation of faith and politics, because faith is just a world view, and everybody has some kind of world view.”
Okay for the introduction. But is it possible that Warren misspoke when he said McCain was safely tucked away somewhere inside the church? The media is now questioning the fastness of McCain’s responses to questions. He got ahead of a couple of questions before Warren asked them. He hurriedly answered the definition of marriage and asked: “Could I . . . are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court Justices . . .?”
Warren said, smiling, “We will get to that.”
Sounds like the good Rev. was playing a game, and Obama was left out of the loop.
It was McCain’s switching the discussion to what he deemed important that caused more alarm for me. I thought I was acting too hastily in my observation of McCain. His hop-to-it answers were faster than other times I watched him on the campaign trail.
Some pundits said McCain beat Obama, who “wasn’t prepared” for the one-on-one debate. They talked about the differences in delivery. I did not see what they saw. McCain was lunchtime--fast food; Obama was gourmet, parting with a more seasoned presentation.
Reporter Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC, said Sunday on Meet the Press, “The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that — what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He (McCain) seemed so well-prepared.”
According to a story by Katharine Q. Seelye of the New York Times (August 17), “Senator John McCain was not in a ‘cone of silence’ on Saturday night while his rival, Sen. Barack Obama, was being interviewed at the Saddleback Church in California.”
McCain’s camp was pissed to the gill that the Obama camp had the audacity to accuse the “former prisoner of war” of cheating. His people have long since felt that McCain should not to be criticized because he is a “war hero.” The media and pundits are reluctant to criticize McCain no matter how poorly he performs in a debate.
When McCain appeared on stage he did not reveal to Warren that he was completely isolated "somewhere" in the church for at 30 minutes. Warren said, “My first question: Was the cone of silence comfortable you were in just now?”
Smiling, McCain said, “I was trying to hear through the wall.”
From there Warren commenced with the interview. And now I’m wondering why McCain did not admit he was not isolated for half an hour.
Rick Sanchez of CNN, talked to Warren on Sunday. “Last night I heard you say that McCain would be in a cone of silence. About a half hour into the event I hear our guys here announce that McCain just arrived at the worship center. And I’m thinking, hey, if he just got to the worship center he couldn’t have been in the cone of silence. Right?”
“That’s true. He was in a cone---a secret service motorcade,” said Warren, not really answering the question.
“You said, and I’m going to quote you. ‘We flipped a coin.' And we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence. When you said that did you think he was in the building?”
“Actually, I did,” said Warren.
Warren said he decided to tell both McCain and Obama the first two questions in advance ---about the three wisest people they know, and their biggest moral failings. He wanted them to feel comfortable. Instead of being conversational, the intended format, McCain was in a campaign mode.
Sanchez ask Warren if he was sure McCain did not hear the questions on TV, IPOD and radio before he arrived at the church.
“In the first place, we asked him: Did you hear any of the discussion. And I trust the integrity of both John McCain and Barack Obama. But they said they would abide by the rules,” said Warren.
The conservative setting was perfect for McCain. Every answer he gave was applauded. He got laughs. He was treated much more warmly than Obama, who got a few minimum-sized hand claps. Did the 2,000 people in attendance merely tolerate Barack Obama because he was invited? Maybe he should have told funny stories and answered questions in fast food sound bites.
Personally, I’ll take Obama’s longer answers to questions that were replete with solutions to problems. There’s nothing wrong with intelligence. But that's just the way I think. And so it goes.