Obama and McCain - Rick Warren - Saddleback
Well, here are my thoughts on probably the most important issues discussed at Saddleback Church on August 17th by Obama and McCain, the 2008 candidates for both the Democratic and Republican parties. You can watch the entire thing here: http://trevinwax.com/2008/08/17/obama-mccain-with-rick-warren-at-saddleback-forum-video/
First thing I want to make clear is that I am taking everything they said at face value and assuming that they mean it. I can't speculate beyond what they actually say. Can't see what is in each of their hearts, etc... I honestly approach this whole thing trying to be unbiased (haven't yet picked a candidate, and don't think I will since I don't have to vote) but also looking at it through my worldview while not trying to read between the lines.
For those who do not know me, I am a Brazilian, living in São Paulo and am a Christian. I do not vote in America and have a bit of a dislike for the lack of choice in the US because of the two party domination. I realize that this might seem to be a summary of something that happened some days ago, but hey, give me a break. I'm in another country. :-)
Anyways, here is the breakup by topics/questions that were asked.
Obama would look to family for advice, McCain would look for politicians and army generals for advice. Both of these are good ideas, Obama going to the people he knows best, and McCain going to people with experience in leadership. I deem this a TIE.
Both claim to have Jesus Christ as their savior. Obama actually spent more time on this than McCain, surprisingly, although McCain's apparent worldview is more consistent with his belief. Obama said that Jesus is the source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis and that he is sinful and needs to get himself and his sins out of his life so that God can work. He also quoted scripture in saying that he tries to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Surprisingly, taking all their words at face value I honestly liked OBAMA's answer a lot more.
Both defined it as marriage between one man and one woman. However. Obama sort of went into the grey zone when he said he would consider conceding civil rights to people of same sex marriage. McCain was a lot more clear and firm on his position. So McCain lands the first punch. Point for MCCAIN.
Obama thinks it is okay to use embryos if they would have been discarded anyways. McCain was wishy washy and said that the debate is an academic one. Both didn't seem to express much of an opinion. TIE
McCain is pro life. Believes life begins at the moment of conception. Claims he will always be a pro life president. Obama is pro choice and is in favor of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. Well, here is a big contradiction, if Obama doesn't believe that abortion is wrong, why would he want to limit anything? Obama really stuttered a lot on this issue and didn't answer when he thinks human rights should be given to fetuses. He goes on and tries to speak in more general terms. The impression I got is that this is not a very comfortable subject for him. Perhaps he wouldn't recommend abortions but he would rather think that it is more of a personal decision and that the choice should not be made by the state. Obama's final reason for being pro choice is that women don't take these decisions lightly. Now that is a silly reason. People can seriously consider things and still make the same choices. Many people seriously consider stealing from someone else and then they go and do it. Doesn't make stealing right. Anyways, since I have a pro life stance (and not by what I think bothers Obama), I vote for McCAIN on this one.
Both acknowledged that it exists, that we need to try and defeat it. McCain went off into a bit of a rant and used this opportunity to say that he would capture Osama Bin Ladin if he became president. I thought Obama would be somewhat vague in his answer, but I actually liked it better than McCain's. Obama said: "We see evil everywhere. It has to be confronted, but we as individuals will not rid the world of evil, that is God's task, but we can be soldiers in that battle. A lot of evil has been perpetrated in the fight against evil. So we need to be careful to have humility and see that our good intentions might not always do good." I thought that this was a more thoughtful answer than McCain's, although history shows that Obama will always prefer dialogue over force, and McCain the opposite. In this round, point for OBAMA.
Supreme Court Justices:
Obama likes the liberals, McCain likes the conservatives. Although Obama makes a good point that judges should be appointed based on their solid record in good interpretation of the constitution, based on ideologies, point for MCCAIN.
Role of Faith Based Organizations:
Obama said that we had to be careful that people would not be discriminated against using federal money and so grants should probably be made on a case by case basis. McCain said that these organizations should all have access to federal funding. At the end of the day since all requests for federal funding go through a selection process with several criteria it all boils down to a case by case basis anyways. TIE
Both said that teachers needed better pay. McCain said that bad teachers needed a new line of work and that this is the civil rights battle of the 21st century. Obama said that a performance pay system for teachers is necessary. Good answers from both. TIE
Obama wants tax cuts for poor people, and a "modest increase" for the rich. He also says that it is irresponsible to spend 10 billion dollars a month on a war with no way of paying for it (agreed). McCain thinks that there should not be tax increases in troubled economic times and supports tax credit in order to stimulate the economy. McCain says that the reasons for the troubled economic times was not high taxes for the poor people or low taxes for the rich, but bad spending. I liked his irony when mentioning how important it was for the federal government to spend 3 billion US dollars last year in studying the DNA of bears in Montana. Didn't like Obama's ideas of tax increases, didn't like McCain not addressing the issue of the money spent on war, although he does criticize bad spending. All in all, I think its a TIE on this one as well.
Privacy vs. National Security:
Obama didn't get asked this question (at least I didn't catch it) and McCain did. McCain said that we should protect the individual rights for privacy of citizens WHENEVER POSSIBLE. Didn't like that answer, but since Obama didn't give his opinion, I can't really keep score on this one, NO POINTS.
Biggest Moral Failure
Obama claims his biggest moral failure was in his youth where he did drugs and drank, as well as acted selfishly for a large part of his life. McCain states that his biggest moral failure was his first marriage. I think both were honest and touched upon delicate issues. TIE once again.
America's Biggest Moral Failure
Obama believes that the biggest moral failure of America is not keeping the principle taught in the book of Matthew that whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do unto me (God). I liked it that Obama turned to the Bible. McCain believes that the greatest moral failure of America is not devoting itself to causes greater than its self-interest which is interesting for a Republican to say since they are usually more supportive of big business and are less of negotiators when it comes to international commerce, environmentalism, etc... Both good answers, but I think that there are worst moral failures for America. However, based on their answers, TIE once again (I'm getting sick of the ties).
Most Gut Wrenching Decision (Hardest Personal Decision):
Obama's most gut-wrenching decision was opposing the war in Iraq. McCain's hardest decision was letting another prisoner of war be released before himself in Vietnam, he was stuck in jail a couple of more years because of this decision. Honestly, McCain's answer, if it is true (cause no one can prove it) is way more personal and a much more difficult decision to make. Not saying that Obama's wasn't, but it really was more of a political decision, and not one where he put himself in harm's way for someone else. He was trying to prevent others going into harm's way, but he didn't self-sacrifice like McCain. From a personal point of view knock another one up for MCCAIN.
Going against Party Loyalty (Hardest Political Decision):
McCain went against party loyalty when Reagan was president when he voted against sending in a couple hundred marines to Beirut. Obama cites two, one where he started a campaign ethics reform in congress, and also opposing the war in Iraq. I believe that Obama's was more difficult a decision to make because it was voting against the VAST majority of his party on making full out war on Iraq. He must have been very criticized. We don't know if the world would be a better place if Saddam was still in power, but I think Obama going against his party in this particular case was much more difficult than McCain's choice. From a political point of view score one for OBAMA.
America and the Rest of the World
Both agree that the only thing worth dying for is freedom. Obama says that: "The basic principle should be, if we have it in our power to prevent mass killing and in concert with the international community then we should act." He also clarifies that an international consensus does not necessarily mean UN approval, as is what happened in Bosnia when the US intervened. McCain acknowledges that the US will not be capable of resolving all the conflicts around the world. He also says that the most valuable commodity is American blood and that not a drop of it should be wasted. He also says the US needs to marshal international forces to help out and prevent mass killings and genocide. He rants a little about Russia and all that Russia wants is an oil pipeline that runs through Georgia. All in all, I find it a bit hypocritical of McCain to sound so careful and tactful about war and international intervention, yet at the same time he is in all out support for the war on Iraq. Not trying to judge the reasons for the war in Iraq in itself, but at least it would have been nice to see him admit that the WAY the US conducted the war in Iraq without international consensus or care was wrong and he would do it differently. Point for OBAMA on this one.
Orphans and Human Trafficking:
They both think its a problem, should be solved by reaching across party lines and making special policies. TIE
Obama says that we must first speak out against countries which do not give Religious Freedom and says that the US should lead by example and be a tolerant nation. McCain says that we shouldn't shrink away from confrontation with countries who are intolerant. All this is easier said than done. Will the US give up trade with China because of religious freedom? Anyways, based on their speeches, TIE once again.
What would you tell the American People if you knew that there would be no repercussions:
Obama would tell Americans that solving Big Problems won't be easy. That for solving the energy crisis means making sacrifices for future generations. McCain was not asked this. I think that Obama was very slippery on this one. He didn't say anything that would generate repercussions at all. All the things mentioned are things that are regularly said today. Anyways, since McCain didn't get asked it there are
NO POINTS for this one.
In 1 minute why you want to be president:
Obama wants to be president because he thinks empathy is fading away in America. He believes he can build bridges amongst divided opinions and he can make the big decisions for America. McCain says that he wants to inspire a generation of Americans to serve a cause greater than their self-interest. He affirms that he will put America first every day of his presidency and that he will reach across the lines. Both good answers. Since I am not trying to judge the sincerity of them both, TIE once again.
So here it is.
McCain likes to tell a lot of stories and talks about Vietnam all the time. Wants to push the whole war hero picture. He had answers on the tip of his tongue, whether this was giving the stump speech or in fact just being more experienced is a matter that I can't pass a judgment on. Obama stuttered a lot, whether this means he was trying to seem smart or whether he was trying not to give his stump speech is also something we will never know. But he does seem to be someone who would dialogue with greater ease with other countries. Specifically thinking how both of them might approach Brazil, I would probably say that economically and socially, Brazil will have better negotiations with the US if Obama is president. However, the US will be much more conservative at least in theory with McCain as president, although, as pointed out by Rick Warren, having a conservative pro life president does not necessarily mean that abortions will decrease (they have only increased during bush's terms), or that other areas will remain conservative as well. McCain, on a superficial Worldview basis would probably hold on to similar moral standards which I, as a Christian have.
In sum, if I had not known ANYTHING about either candidate I would have left with the following impressions:
- Obama seems to know more about the Bible and goes back to it more often
- McCain's worldview is more consistent with the Bible even though he does not go back to it often.
I do not think that any one candidate overshadowed the other in this question and answer segment. They both have qualities and flaws. The major issues with which I disagree with OBAMA are marriage and abortion. And these would probably push me over to the McCain side of the playing field, IF I had to vote. I think these two issues are at the core of the downfall of the modern family, not to mention that the amount of babies being killed is overwhelming. However, the president being Pro Life doesn't really amount to much other than indicating conservative Supreme Court Judges, but it will not change the reality of the states in which abortions are legal.