TiVo-blogging the Civil Forum

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on August 17, 2008

So, it's not really a TiVo, but everyone understands that ubiquitous term as opposed to the slightly more obscure PVR -- which is what I'm really using. (Transcript can be found here.)

As I have done before, let me re-state my concern about having pastors/priests/men of God dabbling in partisan politics: They shouldn't.

Having said that, Pastor Rick Warren is going to do it anyway -- to a lesser or greater extent.

Sen. Barack Obama is first.

Question: The three wisest people Obama knows? His wife. His grandmother. Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Bill Ayers. Father Pfleger. Sens. Sam Nunn and Dick Lugar.

The only wise people Obama knows are his relatives and other politicians?

Question: What's the greatest moral failure in Obama's life and the greatest moral failure in America's life?

Drug use as a kid. Selfishness.

America? We still don't abide by that basic precept of Matthew -- whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.

At this point I'm gonna call liberal theocracy. Seriously. That command wasn't given to the government of the time, it was given to Jesus' followers. When Judgment Day comes, God isn't going to be asking you if you voted for a Democrat who would've voted for a school lunch program. He's going to ask you who you fed. Who you clothed. Who you helped.

When did Obama go against party loyalty and his own best interests for the good of America?

Ethics reform.

Is Obama seriously telling us that Democrats are generally against ethics reform? Oh, my bubble is burst!

Obama says his opposition to the war in Iraq was unpopular.

Obama has used this example repeatedly to show that he isn't just a Democratic Yes-Man, but it doesn't really hold water. While a majority of the U.S. public was in favor of the war back in 2002, Obama's Hyde Park constituency (Obama was a state Senator at the time) was firmly opposed. Like Nancy Pelosi in ultraliberal San Francisco, Obama wasn't taking a brave stand as he alleges now, he was pandering to his base.

Neither of these examples holds much water.

Question: What's the most significant position Obama held 10 years ago that he no longer holds today?

Welfare reform.

Good answer.

What's the most gut-wrenching decision you ever had to make?

Opposition to Iraq war. See previous analysis.

Wow, we even have helpful commercial breaks.

Question: What does it mean on a daily basis to trust in Christ?

The answer is the standard fare.

Once again, is this something we really want to be asking candidates about? There is no religious test for office. If you want to tell me that your public policy prescriptions are based on your faith and tie the two together that way, fine. But, this is meaningless at best and bad for religion -- not politics -- at worst.

Question: 40 million abortions since Roe v. Wade. At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?

Answer: He doesn't answer the question. The answer is above his pay grade? Seriously? I'm trying to think of a worse answer than this non-answer and I'm thinking the only worse one is "18 years old."

Obama thinks we're stupid. Obama says he is for restrictions on late-term abortions as long as there is an exception for women's health, which is really no restriction at all. It's like saying that Obama is for speed limits for automobiles as long as they don't restrict the laws of physics. So you can have a speed limit as long as it's not lower than the speed of light -- which is really no speed limit at all.

Question: Define marriage.

Marriage is one man, one woman -- but it's not.

I point you to this bit, and a comment I made can be found second.

Question: Stem cells.

Bush's approach is a "legitimate moral approach to take."

Someone explain how this is supposed to jive with when life begins being above Obama's pay grade?

Question: Does evil exist?

Yes. We can be soldiers in the process of ridding the world of evil.

Now we get the liberal being militaristic. The left would howl if Bush said the same thing.

Question: Which existing Supreme Court justice would you not have nominated?

Clarence Thomas because he didn't have enough experience.

Pot, Kettle called: You're black.

Question re: faith-based organizations.

They're great, as long as they don't put that faith into action when it comes to hiring standards.

Question: Define rich.

$150,000 or less is middle class.

I'm not sure I can handle a full hour of Obama, all Obama, all the time.

I'm more than a little bit amazed that Obama can spend roughly 60 minutes talking about his faith and the people he trusts and Rev. Jeremiah Wright doesn't come up.

McCain's up.

McCain's three wisest people: Gen. David Petraeus. Meg Whitman, CEO of Ebay.

Greatest moral failure?

Failure of his first marriage.

America's greatest moral failure?

We haven't always devoted ourselves to causes greater than our own self-interest -- though we've been the best at it compared to other nations.

Big, fat softball on "maverick" status.

On this, while I often disagree with him, he has substance to point to while Obama does not.

Flip-flop question.

Offshore drilling.

Good answer. Right answer. Can we have ANWR too?

Wow, I thought Obama was getting hearty applause. I think the McCain's doing even better.

Toughest decision McCain's had to make?

To refuse early release from North Vietnamese prison camp, knowing that he's be brutally tortured for it.

Compared to Obama's answer, this shows how much more life experience McCain has and the depth of that experience. Obama hasn't made really tough decisions -- McCain has.

Question of evil?

Evil must be defeated. Mentions bin Laden, al Qaeda, Islamic extremism.

Words you'd have to pry out of a Democrat with the Jaws of Life.

Question: Define rich.

It's a joke, but the number McCain tosses out -- $5 million -- is guaranteed to be used against him by the Democrats. Guaranteed. Just like the 100 years thing, they'll ignore the whole of his answer, except for the joke number. Not a smart move.

Closing thoughts

For all of the praise that Obama gets as a public speaker, if he's not on a teleprompter, he's not very good. It's understandable how Obama doesn't want to do a bunch of townhall meetings with McCain, he doesn't do them nearly as well.

With the exception I noted above on the specifically religious question, I think Warren did a fine job. While he didn't really challenge either Obama or McCain on some of their statements and inconsistencies, his questions were good ones. Warren's performance should put to rest the elite media's contention that there's anything uniquely "professional" about how they cover politics. Any smart, thoughtful and informed member of the public can do just as good a job -- if not better. In fact, we very well may look back on this after the debates this fall and this will look even better than what the "seasoned professionals" did.

Again, I don't think churches should be doing these sorts of things even though I think Warren's level of entanglement between religion and politics was rather low.

On the flip side, we are poorly served by the mainstream media, because I don't think they could pull this sort of forum off. Warren did the American people a service last night, but he wouldn't have had to if the media did its job.


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August 2008



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