Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain Rides High at Saddleback

This last Saturday night, I watched the Saddleback Civic Forum. Because of the touchy feely stereotype that I had of Pastor Rick Warren, I was a little concerned that Obama would have an unfair advantage being the touchy feely candidate. Having attended a mega church for a while that harped on a few right hearted, but wrong headed approaches to society’s ills, I was preparing myself for a lot of softball questions that begged for answers based on sympathy and not reason. I was wrong on all counts. From my perspective, McCain utterly dominated the session.

Obama revealed a malady that makes him unqualified to be President. This is not a complaint about him being leftist or a Democrat, because I don’t believe that Gore, Hillary, or John Kerry suffered from this to the extent that Obama does. When it comes to some of the great questions of our time, he simply doesn’t have an answer. He does not have an intuitive bias towards an actionable decision and therefore he dithers incessantly.

Case in point was his answer on abortion. I would quote him, but his rambling and overly nuanced approach would take up too much space. I would summarize his answer as this: “Deciphering a moral approach to abortion is impossible, therefore the default government position should be that unborn children should have no rights, and the mother should have libertine choice.” He referred to efforts to define fetal ethics as “above my pay grade”, which is a euphemism for “I don’t know.” He did mention that he would support some late term restrictions, but did not elaborate on what those would be, and given the fact that he has no record of ever voting pro-life on any issue smacks of politically calculated blather.

On issue after issue, he bored us with the pros and cons, and his alleged respect for all opinions, while only mildly implying his personal position. During your life, you have the time to form careful opinions on a wide array of topics. There are for me scores of minor issues that I have yet to make up my mind, not fully agreeing with either of the traditional sides. However, it is only the privilege of youth to dither, not for a leader. The President of the United States cannot pour himself into the epistemology of every topic. The time for that is over when one takes office. Decisive answers are typically simpler than academic ones, but that is what is required.

Obama stumbles for clear answers because he doesn’t have them. He wastes time in debates and conversations to ward off the impression that he hasn’t decided. I don’t begrudge a politician for changing his mind, but when a candidate shifts on position after position during the few months of a campaign it implies that he hasn’t actually decided what he believes. He simply does what sounds profitable at the time. The position of President is too important to allow someone to be figuring things out as he goes along. A leader is not measured by careful consideration of the issues, only by the answers.

Barack Obama is unacceptably vague and unqualified to be President.

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