In humble attempt at casting this in the tradition of Socrates, a (slightly altered) quote:

"The unexamined vote is not worth casting."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

From the Horse's Mouth: Sit-down Candidate Discussions on Beliefs

Both candidates participated in a "faith forum" yesterday where they were asked about all of the hot button issues, from abortion, to same sex marriage, but also interesting questions of character and ethics (each was interviewed separately though, so it wasn't debate style). I especially like the parts of the interviews where you get looks at easily-missed qualities such as how one makes a decision, etc. The videos may end up on the website of the church that hosted it here, but I wanted to check them out and came up with the YouTube videos below (so if some don't end up working because they're yanked off of YouTube for copyright issues, you might try the above link; also, the first three videos for McCain unfortunately were only a still frame picture in the video screen with audio over top, but you can of course still hear what's being said--update: I just came across this website that has full videos of McCain too, but the categories below may still be helpful, although they don't quite match up for McCain now).

As a quick note before pasting the videos, I wanted to mention that the concept of the candidates participating in a "faith forum"--in the way that they did particularly, at an evangelical megachurch--is not immediately appealing to me for a number of reasons (primarily the basic concept that both could be doing so to pander with a capital "P"); however, having admittedly considered myself an "evangelical" in the past (though I do not any longer), I embrace the concept of any political discussion that moves that population beyond the checkbox issues of abortion and same sex marriage (though both those issues were included in this forum, the questions went beyond that too, as I mentioned above). Both candidates seemed to be fairly candid, but judge for yourself and throw any comments below.
I purposefully didn't want to summarize what each said because, like I'm getting at with these posts I'm titling "From the Horse's Mouth," I think the issues being discussed in a race such as this--to lead a hugely complex country--can be nuanced enough (at times) that they merit one's full consideration.

So below I just broke it down into the five videos I found and listed the basic topics the candidates were asked about in each (the candidates were
supposed to be asked the same questions, but based on the below videos, there were some differences which I indicate).

Update: Each of the videos I posted below were apparently pulled from YouTube, but you can watch the different segments here:

PART 1 - TOPICS: Introduction and the candidates' personal sources of leadership; going against party loyalty (McCain)



PART 2 - TOPICS: The "greatest moral failure" of their life and that of America; going against party loyalty (Obama); the "most significant position" held ten years ago that they no longer hold today; the most "gut wrenching" decision they have had to make



PART 3 - TOPICS: Faith issues; abortion; same sex marriage; civil unions; stem cell research (McCain)



PART 4 - TOPICS: Stem cell research (Obama); the existence of evil; to what conflicts would we commit troops (McCain); religious freedom (McCain); Supreme Court Justice choices (Obama)



PART 5 (all Obama, as I couldn't locate any fifth video for McCain, but let me know if you find one) - TOPICS: Federal funding for faith-based initiatives; merit pay for teachers; discussion on taxes and economic fairness across income levels



Anonymous said...

I watched these question and answer sessions with interest because the questions touched on old issues in new ways. It was especially fascinating to see the difference in approach to issues between Obama and McCain. McCain is decisive, talks in sound bites, and appeals to listeners' emotions with his stories. McCain also addressed the audience throughout rather than the questioner. Obama carried on a real conversation and gave more nuanced, thoughtful answers.

For eight years we have had a president who is decisive, one who would never be in danger of being called thoughtful. We live in an extremely complex world with competing demands (oil vs. environment, etc.). Do we want another president who sees the world in blacks and whites? I for one want a president who takes time to think issues through, who is willing to listen to all sides, who understands complexity. I think we saw from this discussion which candidate this is: Obama.

Barga said...

i think that Obama actually won this forum. More about it on my site either tomorrow or friday

Brendan O'Connor said...

Thanks for the thoughts Anonymous, sorry for the delayed response. I like the way you look at the candidates and the WAY they discuss issues, not just their stance on this or that...and man, what a crucial point on thoughtfulness--we COMPLETELY elevate so-called "decisiveness" (which can just as often mean over-simplification or appeasement) over and above thoughtfulness.

I think one has to simply look at the result of a given individual's "decisiveness" or "thoughtfulness" to determine whether they are good traits in various situations. For Obama, thoughtful judgment during the war was clearly prudent, allowing him to later be decisive; for McCain, his "gut" may have led him to support the war, and we see the result of that; like you point out, that same "gut-level" thinking characterizes our current president--you just have to weigh the type of decision-making by the effect of the decisions, and i think each of the three men's efficacy (or lack thereof) shows through when looked at carefully.