Monday, August 18, 2008

Ignominy Strikes Obama Camp in Saddleback Aftermath

I've never seen anything like it.

The latest controversy has it that Barack Obama did so poorly at Saturday's Saddleback civil forum that left-wing commentators and members of the Obama entourage have made allegations of cheating against John McCain. I first saw the story at
Newsbusters, which noted that NBC's Andrea Mitchell suggested to her colleague the possibility of McCain cheating by overhearing Pastor Rick Warren's interview with Obama. Betsy Newmark responded to the Newsbusters piece:
These guys are so full of themselves and their guy's miraculous abilities that they can't imagine John McCain would actually come off as more forceful and prepared than Obama. So they have started whispering that McCain, with his superhuman powers, somehow escaped the "cone of silence" to overhear the questions.

Mitchell also seems to be missing how illuminating that whispered accusation is. They're at the same time revealing how badly they think their guy did; how impossible it seems to them that their guy could do worse than the old guy; and how little they think of Rick Warren and the Saddleback Church.

I wonder if they even realize how insulting to Rick Warren that accusation is. They're basically saying that the respected pastor allowed one of the guys to cheat. And that John McCain, who knows something about honor, went along with that cheating. And that Pastor Warren has perpetuated a cheat on the American people by saying that McCain couldn't hear the questions ahead of time.
The New York Times also covers the controversy, but indicates ultimately that McCain did not overhear Obama speaking (the sequence of interviews was decided by coin toss).

Michael Goldfarb puts all of this in perspective:
Now we know why the Obama campaign has been so reluctant to put their candidate on the same stage as John McCain. The difference between the two last night was striking. While Senator Obama punted on questions of great importance to the American people, and sidestepped even simple questions about whether the United States must defeat evil, John McCain offered the straight talk voters expect of a candidate for President. Senator McCain's responses reflected his long record of bipartisanship, the anecdotes accumulated from a lifetime of service to this country, and the depth of his experience on matters of national security.

The Obama campaign, shocked that John McCain would have the temerity to upstage their celebrity candidate on national television, is now struggling to find an explanation. According to Andrea Mitchell's reporting earlier today on Meet the Press, the only explanation the Obama campaign could come up with was foul play:

“The Obama people must feel that he didn’t do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because what they are putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. He seemed so well-prepared.”
The facts are that Senator McCain was in a motorcade led by the United States Secret Service and held in a green room with no broadcast feed. If the Obama campaign really believes that Senator McCain had some unfair advantage, our offer of weekly town hall forums remains on the table - anyplace, anytime.
Obama backers must be absolutely freaking that their man is barely treading water in public opinion (the race was tied at 44 percent as of Friday).

I've read the spin across the leftosphere all weekend, which suggested McCain couldn't answer a straight question at Saddleback Church. But if the latest allegations of dishonesty are any indicator, it was Obama who was stumped, and it's now perfectly clear who really took home the trophy on Saturday.