Pastor Rick Warren, the phenomenon of modern Christianity that projects a sense of reasonableness, is hosting an interview with both Barack Obama and John McCain. This is an exciting time because a presumably reasonable man – thick with faith – is going to challenge Obama and McCain on a variety of issues.
Thefiresidepost.com will be posting with live updates through the evening.
It begins in a moment.
Warren starts with noting the separation of church and state – but not the separation between faith and politics.
Obama will go first on one hour interviews – separate from the other candidate.
Warren: “They are both my friends and they are both patriots who have different views on issues. We need to restore civility in our civil discourse. Welcome Senator Barack Obama.”
Whoeee! Rick Warren is a big guy – he looks eye to eye with Obama.
The first issue is on leadership, beginning with your personal life. We will quote some passages from scripture. Who are the three wisest people in your life.
Obama begins with humor, “Excluding you of course………”
“One of the people I would listen to is my wife Michelle.’
“Another person in that category is my grandmother, an extraordinary woman. She is a very grounded common sense person. In terms of the Administration I would not limit myself to three people. People like Lugar and Kennedy. What is helpful to me is to have a table where a lot of views are presented. My assumptions need to be challenged.”
Warren: “What about personal life. What is the greatest moral failure in your life and what is the greatest failure of the country?”
Obama: “In my youth I experimented with drugs and alcohol and I finally realized that life is not about me. When I take wrong steps I find that I am trying to do my work rather than God’s work. Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me – that basic principle applies to poverty, racism, sexism, providing opportunity – this country does not spend enough time with the least of these.”
Warren: “When did you go against Party loyalty in the interest of the country.”
Obama: ” I worked with John McCain on campaign finance reform.”
Warren: “When have you changed your mind because of new information.”
Obama: “Ten years ago I was concerned about Welfare Reform. But it worked better than a lot of people anticipated. I am convinced that we have to have work as the centerpiece of any social policy. The intrinsic dignity of work is being a part of a community and making a contribution.”
Warren: “What is the most gut wrenching decision you have ever had to make?”
Obama: “Probably the opposition to the war in Iraq. Saddam was a bad person but I was convinced that there were a lot of questions that were not answered. Like have we finished the job in Afghanistan?”
7:15 PM – Break
Warren: “What does your faith in Jesus mean to you?”
Obama “….It means acting justly and walking my faith with God. Taking daily inventory and hoping to get better. Jesus gives me the confidence to try things like running for President.”
Warren: “On abortion, I know this is a complex issues. 40,000,000 abortions – at what point does a baby get human rights in your view?
Obama: “Theologically or scientifically that question is above my pay grade. There is a moral and ethical problem with this issue. I am pro-choice, in favor of Roe V Wade because I think that women do not come to these decisions casually. So the question is how do we reduce the number of abortions. The current president is against abortion but abortions have not been reduced.”
Warren: “Define Marriage”
Obama, “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. And a Christian God is in the mix.”
Warren: “Would support a constitutional amendment defining marriage?”
Obama, “No I would not. The constitution has never addressed this issue, leaving that proposition to the States.”
Warren: “What about Stem Cells?”
Obama: “Keep in mind the legislation that was signed by the President. So there were very tightly circumscribed rules for this issue. We should in a careful way pursue research to cure certain ailments. But I want to make a broader point, people who support stem cell research would not tollerate a situation that condones human cloning or anything that diminishes human life.”
Warren: “Does evil exist? Doe we negotiate, contain, or defeat.”
Obama: “Evil does exist. We see it all over the world and it has to be confronted squarely. We are not going to be about erase evil from the world, that is God’s task, but we can be soldiers in that task. We should have some humility in how we approach evil because a lot of harm has been don in the name of good.”
Warren” “Domestic issues. The courts, which existing Supreme Court justice would you not have nominated?”
Obama: “I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. He was not a strong enough jurist or scholar. I would not nominate Scalia because he and I just do not agree. John Robert is a compelling person in conversation – how I have seen him operate since he went to the bench confirms why I voted against him. One of the most important jobs of the supreme court is to guard against the encroachment of power by the other branches of Government.”
Warrne: “Faith Based organizations. 1964 Civil Rights Act says people have the right to hire those who agree with them.”
Obama: “We should have a all hands on deck approach to fighting poverty and social strife and I support faith based initiatives. When it comes to using Federal Funds we have to be careful. We want to make sure that as a general principle we want to make sure we are not using federal money to discriminate.”
Warren: “Education. America is 19th in education and first in incarceration. Should good teachers be paid more that others.”
Obama: “The basic notion that teaching is a profession and teachers are underpaid but we should also reward excellence.”
Warren: “Taxes, Define Rich? Give me a number.”
Obama: “If you have book sales of 25 million – everyone laughs – If you are making less that 150,000 dollars you are middle class. I would argue that if you are making more than 250,000 you are in the top 3-4% of the country. If we believe in good schools, good roads, college, then we have to pay for these things. These things do not come for free. It is irresponsible for us to spend 10 Billion dollars on a war that we cannot pay for. If you make 150,000 or less you are going to see a tax cut. We all agree that the tax code should be simpler.”
Break 7:41 PM
Warren: “What’s worth dying for?”
Obama, “The defense of our country. The common defense of ourselves and our allies.”
Warren: “When would you commit troops to end genocide?”
Obama: “There is no hard and fast line – but when we have the power to do so then we should act – but the international approval is important too. We do not have to have UN approval.”
Warren: “148,000,000 orphans in the world. A lot of families cannot afford to take these kids in. Would you be willing to have an emergency presidential plan to help?”
Obama “We have to figure ou what we can do? And how can we prevent more orphans in the first place which means we have to build the public health network around the world.”
Warren: “What should the US do to end religious persecution?”
Obama, “The first thing we have to do is to bear witness, to speak out, to stop keeping quiet. None of want to see military conflict with China so we have to manage the relationship but we cannot purchase that by ignoring what is taking place. We have to support the universal belief that peoples faith is important to them and should be respected.”
Warren: “Growing criminal industry is human trafficking. How would you plan to do something about that?”
Obama: “This is a priority and we have already seen bipartisan support on this issue. We have to give our law enforcement the toold to deal with this problem.”
Warren: “Why do you want to be President?”
Obama: “My mother got really angry with me if she thought I was being mean or unfair to somebody – what makes America special is that notion that everybody has a shot. I want to be President because that is the America that I believe in. I think I have the ability to work across party lines to work on important issues.”
Senator McCain is welcomed on the stage and they all buddy around with each other.
Break 7:58 PM
Warren to McCain: “On leadership again and three people”
McCain: “Probably General David Patreaus. Then John Lewis, an American soldier. Meg Whitman is the CEO of EBAY, one of the great American success stories.”
Warren: “Your greatest moral failure of self and country?”
McCain: “My first marriage was my greatest. America’s is that we have devoted to much to promoting ourselves. We should serve a cause greater than self interest.”
Warren: “Party Loyalty.”
McCain: “I was not elected Miss Congeniality in the US Senate. Climate Change, out of control spending, torture, the list goes on. But of the most trying was when I was new to congress, loyal to President Reagan, I had to oppose him sending troops to Beirut.”
Warren: “Searching for ideas, changing position on issues.”
McCain: “Off Shore Drilling, we have to drill now, gotta drill now. Trade deficits are too big.” (So is McCain saying that he used to support trade deficits?)
Warren: “Most gut wrenching decision?”
McCain: “Long ago in a prison camp in north Vietnam. I was offered the opportunity to leave because my father was an Admiral. I said no.”
Break 8:12 PM
Warren: “World view. You say you follow Christ, what does that mean to you.”
McCain: “It means I am saved and forgiven. Can I tell you another story real quick. Tells of torture by Vietnamese – A Guard came in while I was bing tortured and loosened the ropes, then came back four hours later and tightened them. The next Christmas I was standing out side my cell and the guard made a cross in the dirt with his boot, then he rubbed it away.”
Warren: “Abortion. 40,000,000 abortions. When are human rights granted.
McCain: “The moment of conception. I have been a pro life senator for 35 years.”
McCain: ” Union between one man and one woman. The Supreme Court of California was wrong. I am a Federalist and believe in State Rights.”
Warren: “Stem Cells – federal funding.”
McCain: “A great struggle in pro-life community. But I have great hope that science will help.”
Warren: “Does evil exist?”
McCain: “Defeat it! We are facing radical Islamic extremists. They are evil.”
Warren: “On the courts, which existing justice would you not nominate.
McCain: “Ginsburg, Souter, we should not legislate from the bench. Scalia and Roberts are my most favorite.”
Warren: “Federal funding for Faith based organizations?”
McCain: “I support faith based organizations having federal funds.”
Warren: “Education. Pay more for better teachers?”
McCain: “Yes and find bad teachers another line of work. Choice and competition should be applied in education.”
Warren: “Define rich in context of taxes?”
McCain: “Some of the richest people I have ever known are most unhappy. Happiness is not about money. I want everybody to get rich. Let’s keep taxes low with tax credits. If we are just talking about income how about five million. Spending got completely out of control. It was not about taxes.” (McCain voted to fund the most expensive war ever).
Warren: “Security – when is the right to privacy and right to national security colide?”
McCain: “We must preserve the fundamental rights to our citizens. With technological advances by our enemies we have to keep up with that communications. Sometimes there are calls to and from the US that we must watch.”
Break 8:36 PM
The commercial overlapped the interview and Warren’s Question was not presented – McCain is talking about something.
Warren: “What is criteria for committing troops?”
McClain: “Our obligation is to stop genocide wherever it is. We have got to do more to marshal the forces all over the world. It is a very complicated situation as you know.”
Warren: “Russia is reasserting itself. What is happening?”
McCain: “I am saddened by a centuries-old idea of Russia to kill others to dominate that part of the country. Georgia converted to Christianity is the 4th century…. It is a great little nation. Now the Russians are acting with aggression. We must respect the entire territorial integrity of Georgia. Second it is about energy.”
Warren: “About religious persecution?
McCain: “The President of the US greatest asset is the bully pulpit…. Many said don’t antagonize but Reagan stood for and said what he believed…. I still think that in the worst places and darkest corners they still harbor drams of freedom.”
Warren: “148,000,000 orphans, what should we do?”
McCain: “We have to make adoption a lot easier in this country. Teddy Roosevelt is my great hero and role model. My last story is about Cindy with Mother Theresa, Cindy adopted a girl who is now 17.”
Warren: “Why be President?”
McCain: “I want to inspire Americans to give their lives to something greater than themselves. I have always put my country first in the military and in the House and Senate. I have a record of reaching across the aisle.”
Obama gave more lengthy answers – my thought was that he was exploring the nuances of the variety of issues. Obama did what he does well – thinks on his feet.
McCain gave quick and snappy answers – often just a yes or no – then he told an annecdotal story to defend his position. This writer was surprised at McCain’s personable charm and ease at answering.
This writer has been a supporter of Obama. My take on the two interviews reinforced my thoughts. Obama studies complex nuances, McCain has already made up his mind. But this writer was impressed with McCain’s grasp of a variety of complex questions.