Warren is very cheery, tieless as usual. Separation of church and state we believe in, he says, but not separation of faith and politics. Both these guys are my friends, he says. What’s a friend? We’ve got to learn to disagree without demonizing each other, he say. Uh oh. Demonization is what the religious right’s been all about. Obama up first.
First name basis. Personal life up front. Barack relies on Michelle, his grandmother, he says. His administration: Sam Nunn and Dick Lugar. Ted Kennedy and Tom Coburn. Huh? Wants a lot of different points of view represented.
Greatest moral failure in your own life? Let’s call it narcissism. Warren says he likes that. Trying to protect myself instead of doing God’s work. America’s? Greatest moral failure in his lifetime, don’t abide by Matthew to do the most for the least of us.
So much for the first quarter.
Any example of going against party loyalty, my own best interests? Ethics reform. Going against war in Iraq when he was starting his senatorial campaign. Warren wants to know biggest flip-flop. Welfare reform, BO says. It worked better than a lot of people anticipated. He’s not quite saying it, but the idea is that he opposed Clinton welfare reform and now supports it.
Most gut wrenching decision? Opposition to war. No doubt Saddam meant America ill. But convinced no WMD, more complicated over there. He agonized.
First quarter over. BO relaxed, audience friendly. No punches thrown. BO throws in his own Scriptural references at the beginning, refers to doing God’s work.
Second quarter. World view. Christianity up first. What does his trust in Christ mean. BO gives his testimony–Jesus is his redeemer. On a daily basis? Not just words but deeds. Tough ones up next. Abortion. BO convinced that there is a moral and ethical dimension to the issue. He says he’s pro choice. Common ground is to reduce abortions. The new Democratic platform language. No applause.
Marriage. Man and woman, but opposes constitutional amendment. Favors civil unions. Applause.
Stem cells. In favor research, carefully thought through.
Evil exists, in Darfur, on the streets, abuse of children. Humility necessary. Just because we think our intentions our good.
Third Quarter: Domestic issues. The Courts. Which existing SC justice would you not have nominated. Clarence Thomas. Wow. Not a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at that time, setting aside disagreements. Would also not have nominated Scalia, but certainly brilliant. Roberts a tougher case. But Roberts failure to guard against encroachment of executive branch justifies his vote against confirmation. Good answer.
Faith based hiring? Good question. BO embraces faith based approach, fine. Stands by principle of not permitting faith based hiring for government funded programs. Hems and haws a bit, but doesn’t waffle on the issue.
Teacher evaluation ok. On taxes, define rich. If you’ve got book sales of 25 million you qualify. Good crack. High five. 150 or less your no more than middle class. Over 250k you’re doing real well.
BO’s got through three quarters pretty well, I’d say. The toughest question was the utterly predictable one of abortion, and while I think his answer was adequate, it could have been better articulated.
Fourth Quarter: International matters. War. What’s worth dying for? Our freedom. Common defense. Criteria for intervention? Always a judgment call. If we can, we should act.
Emergency plan for orphans? Great idea, BO says. We should try to figure out what to do. Part of plan to prevent more orphans in the first place.
What should U.S. do to end religious persecution? Bear witness, not pretend it’s not taking place. Case of China complicated, but we have to speak out. We should lead by example–pivots from religion to rights, mentions torture. Impressive.
Human trafficking. Gimme.
Why he wants to be president: Goes to basic idea of empathy, what his mother taught him. A lot of applause for bringing people together to solve common problems.
Last question on opponents to Warren for doing this. This, BO says, is what we need.
What would you tell American if no repercussions. Solving big problems like energy is not going to be easy. If we pretend everything is free, we’re betraying American traditions. Sacrifices necessary. Seems to be a lot of enthusiasm in the crown, whistling and cheering.
McCain comes out, the two candidates embrace, everyone tieless.
First Quarter. Would rely first on General David Petraeus. John Lewis. Goodness. Meg Whiteman, CEO of EBay. Brother.
His own greatest moral failing, failure of his first marriage. America’s, we have not devoted ourselves to causes greater than our self interest. After 9/11 we should have called for sacrifice.
On taking unpopular stands he mentions a bunch of issues, and focuses on opposition to sending marines to Lebanon. But he does not mention campaign finance reform. The unmentionable issue.
How his mind has changed: Off shore drilling. Big applause.
Most gut-wrenching decision. Decision to stay in POW camp.
Second Quarter. I’m saved and forgiven. Vietnamese. He’s going to tell his story. Just two Christians worshiping together.
Abortion. Baby entitled to human rights at the moment of conception. 25 year pro life record.
Marriage. Man and woman. Opposes Cal Supreme Court decision on marriage. Says he’s a federalist.
Stem Cells. Great struggle. Has come down on side of research. Unfortunately, no follow up. If he believes life begins at moment of conception, then how can he support stem cell research.
He’s for defeating evil!
Radical Islam the great enemy. That’s where he’s taking his stand.
Third Quarter. Domestic. Would not have nominated Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter, and Stevens. Legislating from the bench cant.
Faith based. Let them employ their own kind. Warren badly failed to make the issue clear, and McCain didn’t do anything to help.
Education: Choice, choice, and choice.
Taxes: define rich. McCain is ducking this badly. I don’t want to take any money from the rich. This is the first time, I think, McCain looks bad compared to Obama. Makes a joke about five million being rich.
Right to privacy versus national security. Blah blah.
Fourth Quarter. International affairs.
Freedom worth fighting for. Like BO. Obligation to stop genocide wherever we can. He’s back to Georgia being one of the earliest Christian nations. I guess the Russians are johnnies come lately in the Christianity department. No call for U.S. military involvement in Georgia, though.
Religious persecution. Bully pulpit greatest asset of presidency. When’s the Dalai Lama coming? Our Judeo-Christian principles lie behind our motives.
Orphans. Supports making adoption easier. Cindy and the baby from Mother Theresa. First time he’s mentioned that. But he didn’t support Warren’s proposal for an emergency, as BO more or less did.
Why president? Promises to put country first, represent even people with whom he disagrees. Pretty poor.
Response to people who oppose him, asking questions in a church. I’m happy to be here. Judeo-Christian principles again.
So what did it all add up to? Not very much. Unlike the earlier Compassion Forum in Pa, which McCain skipped, this did not turn out to be very much about religion and values. To that extent, McCain had an easy time doing his thing.
Here’s Warren calling for civility. We’ve got to stop demonizing, he says again. I suspect that Republicans will be happy McCain said life begins at conception. Obama should have pressed for bipartisan effort at abortion reduction. It will be most interesting to see if Warren continues to play this role, and/or who follows his lead. Enough from me for now.