Thursday, August 21, 2008
Civil Forum on the Presidency
Did you catch the forum last Saturday? We couldn't watch it at the time but taped it. I just got a chance to see it. If you haven't seen it, you should. Here's a website for viewing the interviews, also with a link to the transcript.
A few thoughts:
1. Seems to me there is a change in the air regarding the public declaration of faith in politics. I can't remember an election where so many in the running claimed unabashedly to be Christians.
2. This forum was a great opportunity to hear questions asked that you wouldn't hear anywhere else. We did hear some of the expected morality-based questions on abortion and stem cell research. But there were also some surprises such as "What has been your greatest moral failure?"
3. I thought Obama did well--until I saw McCain. The latter surprised me. Although I tend to agree with more of his views, McCain has hardly struck me as a good speaker or a very charismatic person. But in this forum he really did shine. Some of the stories he told brought tears to my eyes, and--at one point--a glimmer to his own. I saw more of who John McCain is in this forum than I've ever seen before.
4. The forum seemed very fair. A coin toss determined who went first. With McCain last, he waited in a soundproof area so he couldn't hear Obama's answers. The questions were exactly the same, the only difference being that McCain got to answer one or two more because some of his answers were more succinct and left extra time.
5. The relaxed interview style worked. With no timing on answers, each candidate could take as long as he wanted on any given question. Both men seemed to answer from the heart with less of the "stump speech" rhetoric we hear in other venues.
6. Of course there were many differences in the way the two men answered questions. One of the greatest differences for me was in response to the question, "Does evil exist, and if so, do we ignore it, negotiate with it, contain it, or defeat it?" Obama's first words in response: "Evil does exist. I mean we see evil in Darfur. We see evil, sadly, on the streets of our cities. We see evil in parents who have viciously abused their children, and I think it has to be confronted. It has to be confronted squarely ..." McCain's immediate answer: "Defeat it."
7. As Pastor Rick Warren said (paraphrased), "We need to learn to have discourse and disagreement in a civil way and without disparaging the other side." This forum accomplished that goal.