The Artful Dodger

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Nancy Gibbs writes on the Time.com website about the Saddleback meetings that Rick Warren hosted with both Barack Obama and John McCain.


Watching Barack Obama and John McCain handle pastor Rick Warren's questions about abortion, you could see the whole presidential race in miniature taking shape before our eyes. The clear answer beats the clever one any time ... unless you worry about the chaos that clarity can bring.

Before a friendly but still skeptical Evangelical crowd at Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., on Saturday night, McCain won a roar of approval when Warren asked him at what point a human being gets human rights: "At the moment of conception," McCain replied. The answer was clear, unequivocal and a great relief to restless Republicans who had endured a week of indigestion on the issue. Murmurs that McCain was flirting with a pro-choice running mate like former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman had Rush Limbaugh and his army in full stampede. "The fur is going to fly on this one," Limbaugh warned about the prospect of McCain taking social conservatives for granted.
McCain's straightforward answer, along with his assertion that he would not have nominated any of the Supreme Court's four liberal judges (notwithstanding that he voted to confirm all but John Paul Stevens, who was named before McCain was in the Senate), had social conservatives breathing sighs of relief. "I will be a pro-life president, and this presidency will have pro-life policies," McCain said to cheers from the audience. "O.K.," Warren said, laughing. "We don't have to go longer on that one."

Meanwhile, Obama offered an artful dodge to the question of when a human deserves rights. "Whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade," he said. Like many of his responses that night, it was a long, careful, nuanced plowing of middle ground.


That seems to be the race in a nutshell, the clear choice between McCain and Obama. With Obama, we seem to have an artful dodger who is afraid to stand for anything lest some voter, somewhere be offended. He goes with the flow, careful, cautious, and deeply flawed. He even tries to pass the issue off to God. With him, there is no record to study to see how he might handle certain issues, there's nothing and so we're forced to rely on what he says now. But what does he say now? Not much, except to deny everything he's ever stood for.

At least with McCain, you know the man has a certain amount of character strength, having been imprisoned for some years in the Hanoi Hilton. When asked a question, he will answer it. Ms. Gibbs is worried that his straight answers may come back to haunt a President McCain. She worries that, after following out the logical implications of McCain's answers on abortion rights, that, my gosh, even birth control pills could become illegal, and who knows what the world would be like after that? Its too dangerous for a presidential candidate to give a direct answer, he might not be able to cave to the radical liberal left later.

I think, seeing a candidate offer a straight answer on a difficult question is kind of refreshing.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on August 19, 2008 12:28 PM.

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