our good friend rev. rick warren (author of the purpose driven life) hosted a "presidential forum" saturday night at his mega-fantastic-house-of-worship, saddleback church (which holds, like, a million people at one time.)
in his church, during a "forum" designed by him, with two presidential candidates he invited (via cell phone, none-the-less!) warren told the audience that while he asked barack obama a specific set of questions, john mccain was in a "cone of silence" so as to not hear the questions or obama's answers. the questions were the same for each candidate. the answers were not.
in fact, pundits have talked all day about how obama was thoughtful, took his time answering the questions, seeming very much at ease in the setting, but giving complex and nuanced answers, while mccain was strong, to the point, and often began answering the questions before warren had even finished asking them.
how interesting that today we learn that during obama's questioning, mccain was NOT in a "cone of silence" at all, but in his motorcade on the way to the church. he wasn't even in the building. mccain's camp swore on a stack of...er...they claimed the senator did not hear the questions beforehand. (he didn't hear them. remember what the definition of "is" is?)
actually, my question is not for senator mccain, but for rev. warren: are we really to believe that as you began questioning senator obama, you were unaware that mccain was not even at the church? at this big honking party coordinated by you? one of the main party guests was late and you didn't know?!
today on cnn, warren said just that: he was not aware that mccain was not in the building. but warren also said he intended to give both candidates a piece of paper with the first question written on it "so they'd be relaxed." and yet he says he wasn't able to give it to mccain. huh. was that perhaps because mccain wasn't there? where did you think he was, rev. warren? in the bathroom? wandering around the church grounds somewhere? "hey guys, when someone finds grampa, would you give him this note from me?"
something's fishy here, and it ain't the friday fish fry.
UPDATE 8/18/08 -- warren continues to be vague about that first question thing in this interview with beliefenet.com:
"the only question (mccain) knew, i gave them the first question and i was changing the questions within an hour (before the forum began.)"this is completely at odds with what he told cnn yesterday morning:
"there was actually a question i got to senator obama in advance that i didn't get to senator mccain because he wasn't there. i actually wrote down on a piece of paper the first question because i wanted them both to be relaxed..."UPDATE 8/18/08, 7:20 p.m. -- now a spokesman for rev. warren, a. larry ross, is saying something completely different: the candidates had three of the specific questions ahead of time. from the new york times caucus blog:
"On Thursday night, Mr. Ross said, Mr. Warren told Mr. Obama three of the questions he would be asking: What is your greatest moral failing? What is America’s greatest moral failing? And who are the three people you rely on most for wise advice?
On Friday, Mr. Warren gave the same three questions to Mr. McCain"