[Guest post by DRJ]
Who won the discussion at the Saddleback Civil Forum yesterday – Obama or McCain? To answer that question, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell apparently believes we should consider whether McCain may have cheated (from MSNBC via Newsbusters):
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): Defeat it. Couple of points. One, if I’m president of the United States, my friends, if I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice. I will do that and I know how to do it. I will get that done.
MR. GREGORY: Andrea Mitchell, that’s a pretty clear contrast.
MS. ANDREA MITCHELL: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, there was the crisp, immediate, forceful response by John McCain, clearly in a comfort zone because he was with his base. And Barack Obama, taking a risk in going there but seeing an opportunity. And a much more nuanced approach. The Obama people must feel that he didn’t do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that — what they’re putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MS. MITCHELL: He seemed so well prepared.“
UPDATE 1: More from Rick Warren on whether McCain heard any of the questions.
UPDATE 2: The McCain campaign complains to NBC about Andrea Mitchell’s willingness to repeat Obama’s talking points.
END OF UPDATES
If Obama had done better than McCain in answering questions, I would seriously consider whether Obama is the better candidate. I would consider Obama even though I’m convinced he is so liberal that he’s effectively a socialist, and I think socialism is bad for America. I would consider Obama because I want America to have smart leaders.
McCain knows what he thinks about the important issues of the day. One of the reasons conservatives don’t like McCain is that he doesn’t answer some of the important questions the way we like. I won’t speak for all conservatives but I accept my differences with McCain because at least I know where he stands. In fact, I felt the same way when I was younger when I had to choose between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Reagan was pro-life at a time when I and 78% of Americans were pro-choice on abortion. Pro-choice was important to me then but I accepted Reagan’s pro-life position because I knew his commitment came from principle. I think most Americans will accept differences in opinion when they arise from a clear principle.
Last night and throughout the past year, Obama has shown he is accomplished at identifying the questions. Any good lawyer will tell you that’s an important skill. However, while Obama can articulate varying views, he doesn’t have answers he’s willing to commit to. Obama is the classic liberal arts graduate and younger lawyer who can look at all sides of every issue but can’t or won’t commit to answers.
We’re electing a President who needs to have clear answers, not a mediator with advanced dispute resolution skills. Obama would make a good mediator but as his mild legislative history and open-ended answers demonstrate he’s not ready to lead or be President.