A Brief Overview of Obama and McCain's Discussion with Rick Warren at Saddleback

I just finished listening to the discussion of Obama and McCain with Rick Warren at his church. What a great experience. American politics should always be framed in a format like this. These two hours left me with the feeling that either guy would make a good President. Sadly, the nature of American politics will attempt to destroy this feeling by the time I have to vote. At this point, I would be choosing between two candidates that I like. I have not had that experience since coming of age in this nation. I can't recall ever having a candidate to vote for that I liked. It has always been a vote for the one that stinks the least. Unfortunatley, they will both hammer on each other until I enter that election booth in November to make me dislike both of them. But I will try to remember this moment and focus on their positives rather than dwell on the negatives of each of them.

Obama's theme throughout the night was the verse that he quoted in which Jesus stated that what we do for the least of these we do to him. Obama said that he would lower the taxes of those who make $150,000 or less (obviously excluding those who do not pay taxes) and will "modestly" raise the taxes on those who make over $250,000. He emphasized this by stating that if we really believe in getting kids a better education, having good roads, helping people get college educations, and to stop going into debt, then we have a responsibility to pay for the expenses that we feel we must have. He shined the most when he shared that the moral failure of America has been that we have become selfish and do not bless others. His emphasis on us being selfless was very inspiring.

McCain was much more likable than he has been. For me, he hit a homerun. Depsite not having a consistent theme throughout his answers, he did give the answers I wanted to hear. He emphasized that he is pro-life. Although my research does not conclude that, I will take his word that he is now. We'll see by who he chooses for vice-president. His emphasis on school choice was refreshing. If federal policy pushes for vouchers, then many cities will see a vast improvement in their depressed educational situations. The most striking moment of his discussion was when he emphasized that Bush should not have told people after September 11th to go and consume. Instead, Bush should have told people to go and join the peace corps, be missionaries, and love the world. Great stuff.

Warren challenged each candidate to establish a fund to save the world's orphans by helping people who cannot afford adoptions to receive the money they need to adopt. What a great idea! Obama did not give a firm affirmative but it seemed like he was for it. He emphasized that we would have to link it to policies that would also help prevent situations that create orphans. McCain shared the story of how he has adopted a kid from overseas, also without giving a firm affirmative.

Warren irked me in phrasing his question about war in asking what is worth dying for because that was not he was really asking. He was being very Orwellian in asking what is worth killing for. There are many things worth dying for. As for killing, I will leave vengeance to God. I will focus on loving my enemies, loving my neighbors, and everyone in between. Some man wiser than me once said that.

He also emphasized throughout the night bringing civility into the political arena. We need to stop demonizing those we disagree with. This evening that he created was a great example of that. In the end, I hope this format catches on and replaces the ridiculous debates that have been central to campaigns in the past. This was a refreshing breath of fresh air in a putrid political environment.