After Saddleback

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Warren-McCain-Obama.jpgThere’s no shortage of commentary on John and Barack’s excellent Saddleback adventure, so I’ll content myself with just a few day-after reflections.
1. McCain said enough in the way of magic words to enable pro-lifers to profess themselves satisfied that he’s one of them. In no uncertain terms he asserted that he believes that life begins at conception. He named the four pro-choice Supreme Court justices as the ones he wouldn’t have appointed, and used GOP boilerplate about their “legislating from the bench” to justify why. As long as he doesn’t tap a pro-choicer for VP, he’s probably got the serious pro-life vote in hand and prepared to turn out for him. A weakness of Warren’s approach was that he chose not to engage in serious follow-up. He might have asked McCain to square his “life begins at conception” stance with his support for embryonic stem cell research; or whether, under the circumstances, he supports abortion in or cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother.
2. Obama seemed less than fully prepared to put his best foot forward on abortion. While he mentioned the ideal of seeking the “common ground” of reducing abortions, and noted that he had pushed the Democratic platform in that direction, there was an opportunity to discourse of the kinds of programs the platform envisages, and to summon the pro-life community (well represented in the audience) to join him. The opportunity was missed. Beyond that, Obama did just fine.
3. Will Warren’s call for civility and an end to “demonization” have any kind of an impact? Warren has signaled that he’s prepared to call out the demonizers, if not quite by name yet. Other evangelical heavyweights of a similar establishmentarian bent include Joel Hunter and Kirbyjon Caldwell. The anti-Obama zealots don’t want those guys on the warpath.