Saturday, August 16, 2008

Candidates in Church: The Big Question

By the standards of traditional politics, in tonight's talkfest with Rick Warren, John McCain "won," but the verdict of victory brings into focus the great unanswered question of this presidential campaign: Are American voters really ready for a new kind of politics?

In his answers, McCain was free of doubt, firm and decisive, directing his words to the audience and the cameras, while Obama kept eye contact in conversation with Warren, giving nuanced responses on complex subjects such as abortion and the relationship between government and faith-based organizations.

But until now, nuance has not been a winning strategy in political campaigns, and the wave of enthusiasm for Obama's approach will be washing up against McCain's rock-hard certainties when voters cast their ballots.

While professing strong personal faith, Obama seemed to be addressing Americans who can incorporate doubt into their belief and work to resolve conflicting values and desires, while McCain offered himself as a true believer with no leeway for ambiguity or ambivalence.

After eight years of Bush-Cheney's polarizing view of the world, Obama's approach should have widespread support, but can it overcome the appeal of straight talk that is not always supported by straight thinking?

When they meet in head-on debate, that will be Obama's challenge but, for one night at least, McCain made very good use of a bully pulpit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This discussion was so biased. The preacher asking the questions was so obviously pro-McCain. Mccain's answers were rehersed and he kept saying "my friends" and I kept saying, "I'm not your friend!" and he kept pandering to people's sympathies by talking about being a POW. Being a POW is awful but it does not make one a good candidate for president. As we all know, PTSD, Post traumatic stress disorder, can make one volitile and subject to impulsive behavior.