Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Saddleback Civil Forum

Rick Warren interviewed both major party presidential candidates for a nationwide TV audience earlier tonight. For Obama, it represented his continued outreach to white evangelicals, a demographic that has helped Bush for that last two presidential elections. For McCain, it represents his effort to shore up the support of this group as they have become increasingly disenchanted with the Republican party.

Tonight's event also represented a turning point, I believe, for evangelicals themselves. It used to be that when the media would seek the evangelical viewpoint, they would turn to Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell. Now, Rick Warren has emerged as the media's go-to-guy. Warren is much different than Robertson and Falwell, especially in tone. For instance, he spoke before and after the event about the need for civility in our public life, "we need to learn to disagree without demonizing each other." This demonization was often embodied by Robertson and Falwell.

If you watched the event, please feel free to leave your general impressions in the comments section below.

Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on this topic.


Mrs. N. said...

As you know, I watched the event with you. Honestly, I was impressed by the candid answers given by both candidates. I liked how the two men were interviewed separately as well so it was not a contest of one-upping the other. It also solidified my choice for November.

Curt in Chas said...

Hi Napp! Miss you guys!
I enjoyed the forum and found it quite civil. I do believe people can disagree without animosity. I think Warren's personality and approach seemed unbiased and fair to both. He presented a face of Evangelicals that isn't angry. Warren ought to moderate more of these! He really connects with the average person...curt's opinion!

Anonymous said...

I thought McCain did a spectacular job (at least compared to the expectations going in), but I felt pretty patronized. I could be cynical, but it looked to me like a consultant gave him a list of one-liners that would make him popular with evangelicals and he sprinkled them throughout for good measure; he looked to me like he saw the questioning about religion and values as a distasteful chore that he had to get through by saying the right lines and stalling with well-placed anecdotes.

I thought there was a clear difference between the flippancy with which he engaged the questions and Obama's much more thoughtful and substantive responses (which seemed to clearly discredit the McCain campaign's meme that Obama is a flaky and substanceless celebrity).

Tracy said...

Due to children I did not catch the beginning, and only saw parts of that through the commentaries & recaps, but . . .
I really liked this format, and I will be sad to see the 'debates' start back up. In fact, I would have enjoyed this for longer than the allotted time - with some more questions.