“Define rich,” challenged Rick Warren, Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church and host of the Saddleback “Civil Forum on the Presidency.” “How about five million?” quipped McCain. Americans who watched saw clearly that Barack Obama cannot give straight answers while John McCain can do nothing but. As Obama filled his talk time with “uhs,” McCain filled his with quick wit and an occasional gaffe.
It was the most revealing presidential candidate discourse yet. Warren did ask tough questions that gave little room for a wiggle, and Obama’s attempts at wiggling were stark and obvious when compared to McCain’s unequivocal declarations. What a contrast—and what a delightfully revealing evening that could change the course of the rapidly approaching election.
Perhaps one of the most revealing moments, in retrospect, was the answer to this question:
Warren: Can you give me a good example where you went against party loyalty, and maybe even went against your own best interest for the good of America?
Obama: I’ll give you an example that, in fact, I worked with John McCain on, and that was the issue of campaign ethics reform and finance reform. That wasn’t probably in my interest or his…. But I think that we were able to get a bill passed that hasn’t made Washington perfect, but at least has started moving things forward….
But that one example of his great bi-partisan moment turns out to be as fleeting as it was disingenuous. In February of 2006, when Obama and McCain were serving in the Senate together, neither yet a presidential candidate, there was indeed a bipartisan effort to pass reform legislation. McCain initiated one of his “maverick” efforts to reach across the aisle in an attempt to reform lobbying. Obama pledged to McCain his willingness to rise above bipartisanship and work for the good of America—only to change his mind after one week and withdraw his cooperation. That “selfless-bipartisan” effort of Obama’s ended in a scathing letter by McCain on February 6, 2006: