Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Take on the Saddleback Forum...and My Relief

I'll tell you; few conservatives were so concerned about John McCain being the Republican nominee than I. His track record of reaching across the aisle might be refreshing to some; but as someone who believes that no quarter should be given to liberals in any policy issue I viewed it as a detriment. However, I have been bracing myself to vote for him anyway with a sinking feeling, mostly because I wanted to still have a country in four years- something not possible under the alternative to McCain.

Then, I watched the Saddleback Civic Forum on the Presidency- the famed pastor Rick Warren interviewing both political candidates. By virtue of a coin toss, Obama went first while McCain was placed in an area where he could not hear the questions being asked, then McCain took the stage with Warren to field the same questions.

Unlike any other political debate I've seen, the questions were extremely pointed and revealing. There was almost no "wiggle room" in most of them, even the most blase questions were ones you'd probably not hear at a presidential debate. It was by far the most helpful and interesting debate I've ever seen, and I highly recommend it. I will be posting the videos for it to my profile in a few minutes; and I HIGHLY recommend that you watch them.

The forum contrasted the two candidates mightily- it was incredible seeing how they were not only polar opposites on the issues, but also in their worldviews and manner of speaking. Both appealed to their respective bases- Obama was thoughtful and looked at every side of the issue, while McCain was very direct and straightforward. To liberals, Obama's performance was more or less what they're looking for (I couldn't really tell you; I don't have the necessary brain damage to understand liberalism); while conservatives were reassured by McCain's directness and exactly what actions he'd take.

One of the most revealing questions was one you almost never hear answered by a politician- "At what point do you believe life begins?", referring of course to the abortion issue. Obama waffled, saying the question was "above his paygrade." To be frank, considering how he has rabidly promoted abortion- including killing a bill (more than 6 versions) that would have given the rights to care for babies who survived an abortion in the Illinois state senate- one would assume he'd better believe that the right to life is not granted until a natural birth. To say that he doesn't know; but still be supporting what amounts to infanticide (killing that bill repulses most supporters of abortion) is more than heinous; it's barbaric.

On the flip side, McCain unequivocally stated that the right to life begins at the moment of conception, of course much appreciated by normal Americans. One of my favorite things that he did say was "I don't want to tax the rich, I want everyone to GET rich." He also qualified this statement by saying he does not believe in wealth redistribution through taxes- a HUGE relief for me. One thing I've never had an issue with him on is his rabid opposition of pork-barrel spending; he again stated that he opposes and would kill any bills which included pork; citing a case where the federal government spent over $3 million to study bear DNA...not exactly in their job description. Between him lowering taxes and eliminating pork-barrel spending; it would force Congress to use our money wisely or risk losing their next election- and we all know they won't do that.

Other comments that assuaged my doubts about John McCain- his promotion of school choice, and firing bad teachers; his promise to be strong on national defense, and his statement that we should be drilling now. This is a switch from his past, since a reason that we conservatives have been wary of him was his opposition to drilling in ANWR- but not all "flip-flops" are bad ones. Hopefully he comes through- with the American public greatly favoring an increase in domestic oil production; I'd imagine he barely has a choice in the matter.

Obama, meanwhile, came off as practically socialist (actually, scratch the "practically"). Even his supposed "strength" (him being a unifier of the country) turned out to be a falsehood when questioned about his ability to reach across the aisle. The Atlantic magazine's September cover held a story called "Who's the Real Unifier?" The entire piece could have been two sentences long. “Since arriving in the Senate, in 2005, [Obama] has voted with a majority of Senate Democrats almost 97 percent of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly,” writes longtime political commentator Ronald Brownstein. Meanwhile, “McCain has voted with a majority of Republicans 85 percent of the time since entering the Senate, in 1987.” Due to his long-winded non-answers to questions, and his apparent hesitancy to offend ANYONE by giving a straight answer to something, he came off more the politician than McCain did. The Great Orator Obama was considered to have been beaten soundly by almost every source or commentator.

So, of course; Obama did what all Democrats do when they lose: accuse their opponent of cheating. His campaign sent a letter to two news networks saying that McCain was not in the "cone of silence" after all; and could hear the question and thus give quicker answers. Of course it couldn't simply be because McCain has been doing townhall-style forums since the beginning of his campaign and is much more used to such bold and straightforward questions about such things. This could also possibly explain why Obama refuses to meet McCain in a townhall-style debate: without a prompter, Obama stutters and gives very ambiguous answers to confuse voters- he's no longer the great orator he's promoted to be. He looks unsure of himself and inexperienced, while McCain comes off as confident and with a optimism that America can overcome its troubles.

Which reminds me of another problem for Obama- when asked if there was evil in the world, he surprised the attending crowd and Americans everywhere by saying America was a source of evil- a pessimistic and traitorous-sounding position that doesn't ring well with most Americans. Perhaps this kind of rhetoric works well among the Treason Lobby (read: Democrats); but the evangelicals in the crowd sat silent and dumbfounded- no applause.

All in all; this was a huge break for McCain- not only did Obama politically impale himself on a few points, but he most certainly reassured true conservatives like me that we could do much worse.

So, finally; the McCain campaign has the coveted Thomas Stone Endorsement.

Vote McCain!

Update: In case you need more than my own word to know that McCain won the Saddleback Forum and that it was important; consider: John McCain; who'd been tied with or trailing Obama by a few points in most polls, is now either tied with or ahead a few points in these same polls. Of course; his decisive response to Russian aggression in Georgia probably also had a factor in this (as opposed to Obama's expected waffling); but I'm sure the Forum didn't hurt a thing for him.


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