Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Purpose Driven Debate

Well it was more a conversation like you'd see on a version of In the Actor's Studio with Rick Warren taking the place of James Lipton.

Both major party presumptive candidates Barrack Obama and John McCain took an hour to sit down with Warren. Each candidate was asked a series of mostly the same questions on a number of topics. Warren was skillful though not necessarily telegenic in handling the candidates and fielding the questions.

There was a lot of hand wringing from the more extreme elements from both political parties. Each are looking for a slash and burn forum to destroy the opposing candidate. In their view, if there isn't some blood flowing and a carcass or two left along the way, then a debate isn't worth it's time.

Warren pretty much promised things would be civil. And he delivered.

Pastor Warren did an excellent job of asking relevant questions without being divisive. Maybe this forum was good start to a better creating a better dialog regarding the hot button topics of the day.

I know, I know, there's a lot of money to be made and the power brokers of the divisiveness will not be giving that up easily. But maybe the seeds were planted to get to the destination without the need to sacrifice metaphorical blood along the way.

Warren was even handed and appeared to side with neither candidate while being open and friendly during the hour spent with each. And he often in an almost empathic manner when asking the tougher questions that can easily become divisive stated that he struggles in his own house of worship on these burning issues of the day.

Both candidates did a splendid job in the format. In general and depending on your worldview, each candidate could claim victory. Obama thoughtfully weaved his way through the questions. Yes, there was a gaffe or two. But overall, for what could largely be considered a stacked audience against him, he won applause for many of his responses.

Senator Obama for the most part did an excellent job of displaying that he is deeper than just being superficial. I felt more comfortable with him last night than I have at any time prior.

Of course the proof will be in the pudding and we'll see if he's elected and who he nominates for key and critical appointments.

And while Senator Obama did a pretty good job of presenting himself to a largely evangelical audience, it was Senator McCain who probably hit a bases loaded home run.

McCain has until last night been loathed by many rank and file Conservatives, especially the Social Conservatives and more strident Republicans. After years of being pummeled by conservative pundits and talk show hosts, McCain has been swimming against the tide with many who identify themselves with pure conservatism, social or otherwise.

Most of it began in the 2000 primary elections. But it has continued to this day. For example earlier this year, social conservative voice James Dobson declared that he would not vote for McCain under any circumstance. By July he said he was revisiting his decision, but still remains uneasy. Talk radio king Rush Limbaugh, while tempering his criticism in latter days, still is delivering a daily menu of why there is a lot to not like about McCain. Geez, with friends and allies like these?!?!

Many conservative bloggers and forum participants have realized that they maybe for the first time got to see the more basic John McCain Saturday. I watched one thread from a popular conservative web site as the debate unfolded this past Saturday. Most participants are singing a new tune. The transformation as I monitored that forum in real time as the debate went on was amazing. There was a discernible change in tone.

Maybe by seeing and hearing McCain in his own words vs those being filtered through the "jaw bone media" has given them a better perspective about who the man really is and what's in his heart.

The few that aren't, and that applies to the more strident from both sides of politics, likely wouldn't be happy with a fresh and dry diaper.

Thank you Pastor Warren for this great forum you moderated.

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