Riding Rick Warren's Saddleback:
According to the transcripts from CNN and his own website, Rick Warren did not play fair with the presidential candidates. The first question Rick Warren asked John McCain was not the first question that he asked Barack Obama. They are immensely different. Warren quoted Proverbs and then asked Obama, "Who are the three wisest people you know in your life, and who are you going to rely on heavily in your administration?" Asked two separate questions, framed by biblical "wisdom," Obama gave two separate answers, one personal, one political.

Warren asked John McCain, "Who are the three wisest people that you know that you would rely on heavily in an administration?" That's not just different phrasing. That's an entirely different question. Warren did not preface his query to McCain with a Bible verse. So the context and the actual question were not the same as for Obama. McCain could more easily give his military guy, black guy, and woman answer.

It'd be like asking one orgy participant, "Whose ass do you want to fuck first, and do you want snacks?" and asking another, "Whose ass do you want to eat snacks out of?" The activities are significantly different.

Beyond whether or not McCain listened to part of Obama's "conversation" with Warren while in his limo on the way to the Saddleback Church and not in a "cone of silence," as the pastor promised, beyond whether or not his cross-in-the-dirt story is stolen, what very few people have commented on in the mainstream media is the way McCain actually answered many of the questions that Warren asked. While Obama fell into the liberal trap of wrestling and grasping with ideas and, holy shit, nuance, McCain used every question as a chance to repeat the same lines from his campaign stops.

Warren asked about an issue McCain had changed his mind on, and McCain launched into his endless diatribe about offshore oil drilling. Instead of talking about how he came to shift positions, McCain talked about nuclear power and the French. Asked about evil in the world, McCain made the bold assertion, "No one, no one should be allowed to take thousands of American — innocent American lives." When Warren asked McCain not to give his stump speech on education, McCain gave his stump speech on education.

And while all the pundits positively creamed themselves with McCain's oh-so-firm answer on abortion, bravely stating in an evangelical church that he believes life begins at conception, when Warren asked him, "where do you move from middle class to rich? Is it $100,000, is it $50,000, is it $200,000?" McCain descended into a kind of madness, a deranged mixing of talking points and glib pop psychology.

First he said, "Some of the richest people I’ve ever known in my life are the most unhappy," which had nothing to do with the question." When McCain finally gave a number, he tossed out, for a laugh, "$5 million." Instead, he turned it into a chance to repeat his standard lines about cutting taxes and wasteful government spending, about Congress going on vacation, about economic problems for poor people that can't be solved no matter how many tax cuts you give, ending with, "I can lead, and I know that our best days are ahead of us."

Yes, Obama did occasionally fall into campaign rhetoric mode. Yes, his abortion answer was a fuck-up in wording - "above my pay grade" was actually a way of saying, "I'm not a fuckin' medical researcher or a goddamn priest." But Obama talked to Warren, answered Warren's questions, engaged in a conversation with Warren, at least trying to give the appearance that he was listening to the goateed pastor. Hell, Obama was the one who acted like he knew how to behave with a pastor and seemed way more at home talking about morality and biblical references.

McCain came into the Saddleback Church having rehearsed lines, addressing the audience, ready with stories about his captivity and applause lines for a friendly crowd. He was constantly veering off-topic to tell a story like, well, an old man with an audience. And who the fuck could blame him for pandering?

But here's something that should be at least somewhat disturbing. When talking about foreign policy, twice McCain referred to former Soviet states as "little." Georgia is a "great little nation" and a "beautiful little country." Belarus and others are "little countries." The infantilization of Eastern Europe bespeaks a condescension to their needs, as well as setting up a parental reliance on the United States, perhaps even leading to military intervention in conflicts with Russia, which, one presumes, is not little in McCain's imperial mindset.

McCain also answered the question about his greatest moral failure with "the failure of my first marriage." So the Republican nominee is saying that his current marriage, with children, is a product of a his moral failure. Well, shit, maybe that's why Cindy McCain seemingly adopted a child without consulting her husband.

Oh, and by the way, who the fuck cares what a fat fuck rich preacher has to say beyond his congregation? Thanks, candidates, for boosting his book sales and legitimizing the church as a deciding factor in the presidential race.