Liveblogging The “Purpose Driven Debate”

7:52: My expectation is that this debate (although it’s not really going to be a debate per se) is going to be pretty fluffy. Probably not a lot of really tough questions.

7:56: Questions I’d like to see, but probably won’t — to McCain on adultery and Barack Obama on his Muslim childhood (and yes, he had a Muslim childhood).

7:58: RWN’s Favorite Quotes From Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life

8:00: The debate hasn’t even started yet and I am already slightly bored. I think it’s because I anticipate nothing but huge, floating softball questions all night long. I hope it doesn’t turn out that way.

8:02: It’ll be interesting to see how this format plays out. It’s very different than anything else that has been done before.

8:04: Barry is rested and ready after spending time in Hawaii…

8:04: The first question sounds like something you’d hear from a Jr. High school student. This may be even duller and fluffier than I thought.

8:05: B.O.’s grandma, who was last seen after being thrown under the bus for being a racist, is going to be giving Obama advice. Goody!

8:06: Tom Coburn and Dick Lugar will be giving Obama lots of advice? C’mon, please. Does anybody believe this?

8:07: This is going to be excruciating. It’s like a grade schooler’s version of questions you’d ask a President.

8:09: Yawn! Obama’s courageous decisions: supporting ethics reform and opposing the war in Iraq.

8:12: My biggest mistake: thinking liveblogging this whole thing would be a good idea. Hitting myself in the face with a hammer would be less painful…

8:14: Obama’s toughest decision: opposing the war in Iraq. He wanted to do it because Saddam was a bad guy, but even back then, before he was a senator or had to vote for it, he foresaw all the problems we had today and decided against it. What a load of hooey…

8:18: Oh goody, we’re back!

8:22: Our first semi-relevant question at 8:22: When does a baby get human rights in your view? Obama: That’s above my pay grade. Obama is pro-abortion.

8:25: Obama says marriage is between a man and a woman — but, he wants to kill DOMA. If he didn’t support gay marriage, he wouldn’t hold that position.

8:27: Ok, I gotta give Warren credit. He has finally started asking some relevant questions, but he is not pinning him down when he says things that are inconsistent with his views. Ironically, McCain will have a lot of trouble with these questions, too.

8:29: Obama is choking a lot on this question. Not much of that vaunted charisma on display.

8:29: Does evil exist and how do we deal with it? Ok, moronic question.

8:31: Which existing Supreme Court Justice would you not have nominated? Good question! Clarence Thomas. He wasn’t a strong enough legal thinker. He wouldn’t nominate Scalia. We just disagree. Roberts is tougher, because he is a compelling person.

8:36: Would you insist that faith based organizations forfeit the right to hire people who agree with them on faith issues to get federal funds? Yes, he would. It’s discriminating against people with federal money. I’m shocked. That was a good question. The middle of this is good.

8:37: Do you think we should have merit pay for teachers? Obama says yes.

8:41: Define rich. 150k or less as a family per year is middle class or poor. If you are making more than 250k, you’re rich. 150k or less, you will see a tax cut. 250k or more, you will a modest tax increase. We need a simpler tax code.

8:42: Right before they cut off the air, Warren leaned over, said “home run” and shook Obama’s hand. Wow, that makes him look like he’s in the bag for Obama…

8:45: As an American, what’s worth dying for? Freedom, America’s national interests.

8:47: We should work in concert with the international community to prevent genocide. Would we go to war without UN approval? Yes, if need be. Bosnia was an example. Strong international case had been made.

8:48: An emergency plan for orphans worldwide. Obama looked at this idea ahead of time? Ehr…really? How did he know about it? Did Warren mention it beforehand? Is this something Warren has been pushing? Bush did great work on AIDS funding.

8:50: How do we deal with religious persecution? Speak out. Join in international forums. People’s faiths and beliefs must be protected. Lead by example. That’s why we need to have religious tolerance in the US, stick by the rule of law, and don’t torture. We’re already doing all those things, so what is he complaining about?

8:52: Human slavery has to be a top priority.

8:52: From the comments section: “the thread over on has written a few times that obambi was fed the questions in advance.” I tend to doubt it. He is just doing okay. If he knew what the questions were, he would be reeling off lots of lines his writers came up with and coming across much better.

8:54: The American Dream is slipping away. I can build bridges across lines to get things done. Never really explained why he wanted to be President.

8:57: Forums like this are great. Solving big problems isn’t easy and everyone is going to have to get involved. There will be a price to pay in transitioning to a more energy efficient economy and dealing with climate change. McCain should be on stage when they come back from break.

9:00: And the crowd goes wild, chanting Johnny Mac, Johnny Mac…no, not really.

9:02: Ok, now we have 20 minutes of fluff to endure. Boy, McCain is giving a long and winding answer to this first question. McCain wants to listen to David Petraeus and the woman who ran eBay. Not a home run, but better than Obama’s grandmom and wife, I think.

9:04: McCain has a little more gravitas and humor than Obama did early on.

9:06: McCain lists issues where he reached across the isle: torture, climate change, yada, yada…McCain opposed sending troops to Beirut and opposed Reagan on it. Tragically, 100 Marines died in a bombing there.

9:08: What position has McCain changed on from 10 years ago? Offshore drilling. Makes a cute Ah-nold joke. We gotta do wind, solar, you name it, nuclear power, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Funny French joke.

9:10: McCain’s toughest decision: choosing to stay in a prison camp when he could have left. Powerful. Thoughtful. Crowd loved it.

9:13: Commercial break. For whatever it’s worth, McCain is performing head and shoulders above Obama so far. He’s funnier, has more gravitas, and is just putting in a much stronger performance overall.

9:16: What does it mean to you to be a follower of Christ? It means I am saved and forgiven. McCain telling an incredible story about a guard at the POW camp who helped him because he was also a Christian.

9:19: McCain gets loud and proud on the pro-life issue. Go, Johnny Mac!

9:20: McCain believes in the unique status of marriage between a man and a woman, but is a federalist.

9:21: Stem cells has been a great struggle. I have supported stem cell research, but I am wildly optimistic that skin cell research will make this a moot point.

9:22: What should we do against evil? Defeat it! If I have to follow him to the gates of hell, I will get Osama Bin Laden. No one should be allowed to take thousands of American lives. Al-Qaeda sent mentally disabled women into a market and blew them up. We will defeat Al-Qaeda and bring our troops home with honor.

9:25: McCain asked which justices he would not nominate: He names 4, but not Kennedy, which is scary. Loves Alito and Roberts and proud of Bush for nominating them.

9:26: McCain opposes making churches give up their beliefs in regard to whom they hire, in order to get federal funds. The faith based organizations were more effective than the federal government in New Orleans.

9:30: McCain with another great — and fast, answer on schools. Charter schools, home schooling, vouchers — they work! Education is a civil rights issue. Everybody can go to school, but what kind of right is it if you send them to a failing school?

9:31: McCain, I don’t want to take money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich. There are small businessmen people would classify as rich who are working all the time. I don’t believe in class welfare. Rich is 5 million, jokingly =D Taxes haven’t been the problem the last few years. It’s spending. McCain hammers Congress for taking pay raises and vacations — they never miss those.

9:35: How does national security and privacy collide? We must preserve privacy as much as possible. He believes in a secret ballot for union organizers.

9:37: Commercial break. McCain is destroying all in his path tonight — or maybe he just looks that good in comparison to Obama.

9:40: What’s worth Americans dying for? Freedom. Our national security.

9:45: Energy, pray for Georgia. Lots of gravitas…

9:46: How do we deal with people who don’t give religious freedom? The bully pulpit. The President has to speak up. We must do what we can to help the oppressed people. We have our flaws and our failings, but we remain the most unusual experiment in history. I know what it’s like to be without freedom.

9:48: Can we do some sort of worldwide plan for orphans? We need to make adoption easier. Cindy went to Mother Theresa’s orphanage. Cindy came home with a 5 week old baby. She’s 17 now. We’ve been blessed. Awesomeness…

9:50: Why do you want to be President? I put my country first, I want to inspire people to serve. America wants hope, optimism, and reaching across the aisle. When I go to places where they won’t vote for me, I want to tell them I will be the president of every American and will always put my country first.

9:52: What do you say to people who don’t like me asking you these questions in a church? We were founded on Judaeo-Christian values and I am proud to be here and want to go everywhere across the country.

Summary: Overall, the format was kind of dull and I think Warren could have done a better job with the questions.

That being said, McCain absolutely dominated Obama. McCain was much more charismatic, funnier, clearer, came across as better informed, and had much, much more gravitas. Obama looked like an incredible lightweight compared to McCain.

Overall grade: McCain A. Obama: C-.

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