Revisiting Saddleback

I haven’t watched any the presidential debates because I sort of like my LCD television set and don’t want to damage it just yet by throwing things at it. Plus, other people do a more amusing analysis by counting tongue juts and generating word clouds.

This explains why I’m furiously googling what the hell a “Joe-the-Plumber” is (not that it mattered).

It also explains why I base my opinion on word-based transcripts and not strange body language.

And it occurred to me just how different the transcripts on McCain’s end seemed between this and the Saddleback Forums. You remember that? It was the debate at a evangelical Christian megachurch in which to be fair the same questions would be asked of both candidates with the latter being in a “cone of silence” which McCain won handily.

I was surprised at the time because McCain actually gives horrible answers to religious questions to the extent that Wesley Clark’s son once called him, “George Bush without the Jesus.” It comes from the fact that it is pretty obvious that he doesn’t changed his viewpoints for political expedience. There was a big hoopla about whether or not McCain cheated or was coached, and I remember thinking that the responses to those accusations were <a href="surprising non-denials under careful parsing.

Now we have three debates under the belt in three different formats that are very different from each other as well as the forum, one thing that stands out is how different the former was from the other three. And I don’t just mean under whose mark you check on the “W” column.

So I went back and re-read the transcript and here is a strange one:

In question 8 on marriage, McCain responds:

McCain: Are we going to get back to the importance of Supreme Court Justices, or should I mention it?

That is the first mention either him or the moderator have of the Supreme Court. Continuing the response, Rick Warrens says:

Warren: Man, you’re jumping ahead. You know all my questions.

McCain: When we speak of the issues of the rights of the unborn, we need to talk about judges. But, anyway, go ahead.

The question McCain eludes to is actually question 11

Which existing Supreme Court Justices would you not have nominated?

This question clearly caught Obama by surprise as he has to pause to collect a response when asked that question:

Obama: That’s good. That’s a good one.

Now there is a passing mention of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade in question 7, but in light of the you can see pacing of responses and the quality of them, it’s now pretty clear that McCain knew the questions in advance.

I don’t know about you, but if I were Rick Warren, staking my reputation on the fact that neither candidate could not have possibly cheated, I’d be really, really pissed right now.

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