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Stop the presses! The New York Times and so many others are reporting that John McCain was not, I repeat not, sitting in what Pastor Rick Warren referred to as “the cone of silence” while Barack Obama was questioned during Saturday night’s Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency.
McCain staffers told journalists that the Republican candidate was in a motorcade on his way to the church when Obama was on stage, but heard none of the questions. Yet in an age of Blackberrys and text-messaging that strains credulity.
This is no small matter. In fact, it’s a huge matter, if only because we: 1) were assured by the Pastor that he [McCain] was not able to hear the questions asked of Obama, 2) were led to believe by McCain that he was in the “cone of silence” as well, and 3) watched McCain blow the doors off of every single question that was asked of him.
I do not know if this story is accurate and I surmise that in the next few hours we will be learning a lot more. But insofar as I pronounced Senator Obama the night’s loser (see the post from this morning below), I need to retract that verdict.
As you can tell from the post below, I was not too thrilled about the Saddleback Forum. Among other complaints, I believed that only a credible news organization should have been entrusted with a conversation as important to American democracy as this one. It wasn’t only secularists who lost on Saturday night, but journalists as well.
I do not believe–note this–that there was any malice on Rick Warren’s part. Let’s call it a mistake. BUT IT WAS A MISTAKE THAT PROBABLY WOULD NEVER HAVE OCCURRED IF WE FOLLOWED OUR JEFFERSONIAN INSTINCTS AND PREVENTED A SECTARIAN CLERIC–SUBJECT TO NO EXTERNAL MONITORING OR OVERSIGHT–FROM HAVING THE FIRST CONVERSATION WITH TWO CANDIDATES COMPETING FOR THE HIGHEST OFFICE IN THE LAND.
Let’s see how the story develops in the next few hours.
By Jacques Berlinerblau |
August 18, 2008; 4:33 PM ET
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