1. Rick Warren was great:
Warren’s queries were simple but probing. He was fair to both candidates, his manner was relaxed but serious, and he neither went for “gotcha” questions nor pulled his punches. And his procedure of asking virtually identical questions to each candidate during his turn on stage paid off. It allowed us to see the two giving revealingly different answers to the same question.I agree. I can't think of anyone I've seen do a better job of probing prospective Presidents. He did a brilliant job of demonstrating the way and the extent to which religion belongs in politics. If Warren is to be the new face of Christian evangelism in America, we are experiencing a great advance.
2. McCain won.
Obama made no big mistakes. But his tendency to somewhat windy generalities meant he wasn’t particularly compelling. McCain, who went second, was crisp by contrast, and his anecdotes colorful.I agree that McCain was crisp. McCain kept launching anecdotes, which ought to have made him seem windy too, but they were such good anecdotes, he kept them very short, and he acted like he thought it was stretching the format to include them, so I never got the feeling that he was padding and running out the clock.
But I think Obama was good too. He does tend to drift about abstractly, but he seems to be thinking out loud, and this often makes him seem real and compelling. Sometimes, such as when he talked about same-sex marriage, we think we can see him dissembling. Now, you might think it would be great to have a President whose dissembling shows, but he's going to have to engage in world diplomacy on our behalf.
Kristol bolsters his opinion that McCain won by pointing to Andrea Mitchell on “Meet the Press,” who said “the Obama people must feel that he didn’t do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context. ... What they’re putting out privately is that McCain ... may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.” Ha ha. Thanks to Andrea Mitchell for revealing that the campaign is prompting the press to take that line.
3. Obama and McCain "have different 'worldviews'":
Obama said ... “Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility” as we confront evil. Why? Because “a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.” After all, “just because we think our intentions are good doesn’t always mean that we’re going to be doing good.”...They were different in response to the question about whether evil exists and, if so, what we ought to do about it. We all know McCain thinks much more readily of the military and that he'll doggedly go for victory once we've engaged. Obama, by contrast, tends to mull over America's failings. There were many other differences on display at the forum. Compare their answers on abortion and their efforts to put a number on "rich." It's this displaying of differences that matters far more than any conclusions about who won.
But here as elsewhere, Obama stayed at a high level of abstraction. It would have been interesting if Warren had asked a follow-up question: Where in particular has the United States in recent years — at home or especially abroad — perpetrated evil in the name of confronting evil? Hasn’t the overwhelming problem been, rather, a reluctance to effectively confront evil — in Darfur, or Rwanda, or pre-9/11 Afghanistan?
John McCain appears to think so. Unlike Obama, he took the question about evil to be in the first instance about 9/11. McCain asserted that “of course evil must be defeated,” and he put “radical Islamic extremism,” Al Qaeda in particular, at the top of his to-defeat list. In this context, McCain discussed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and concluded by mentioning “the young men and women who are serving this nation in uniform.”