The Scene at Saddleback

by Benjamin Domenech on 10:13 pm August 16, 2008

>> A quick post on Obama v. McCain at Saddleback: the initial reports confirm my feeling that McCain was surprisingly good, and Obama performed very poorly in a venue that seemed otherwise made for him to make inroads.  Revolution in Jesusland correctly points out that Warren teed up the abortion question perfectly for Obama. And he still couldn’t manage it.  Jake Tapper points out that Obama caught very few breaks, and meandered through answers as the audience sat silent.  This isn’t just the advantage of McCain’s incredibly powerful story – I love how they still have to explain IXOYE to folks – he seemed genuinely at home with a group of evangelicals that are not, frankly, part of his natural base, in front of a pastor who is decidedly favorable toward Obama.

And frankly, I found the one question I thought Obama would’ve been prepared for – about judicial nominations – to be one of his worst answers of the night.  How does Doug Kmiec respond to arguments from the candidate he has risked all to support when he says things like this?

Asked which existing Supreme Court Justice he, as president, would not have nominated, Obama immediately said he “would not have nominated Clarence Thomas…I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretation of a lot of constitution.”

For good measure, he added he would not have nominated Antonin Scalia, “although I don’t think there’s any doubt about his intellectual brilliance.”

Chief Justice John Roberts, whose confirmation Obama voted against, “was a tougher question only because I find him to be a very compelling person.”

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